Medicare Issues

Medicare is an extremely important program for millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries.  However, the program has proven to be on unsustainable financial footing and is facing many difficulties.  In March of 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), better known as health care reform, into law.  Many have stated that the PPACA will fix the problems in Medicare.  While TSCL feels that there are pieces of the law which are helpful we have several concerns about the impact it will have on senior citizens.

Specifically, TSCL is concerned that the legislation’s projected Medicare savings are built on shaky accounting and that some of the reductions in Medicare spending may harm seniors.  A memo from Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that the "estimated Medicare savings may be unrealistic."  Foster said that "providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable" and might end their participation in Medicare.

Also, according to a December 23, 2009 memo from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the majority of savings from the cuts to Medicare would be "used to pay for spending under the PPACA and would not enhance the ability of the government to redeem the bonds credited to the trust fund to pay for future Medicare benefits."

To that end, TSCL supports efforts to change or repeal the following Medicare related provisions: the cuts in payments to Medicare providers; the expansion of “means testing” to Medicare Part D, resulting in increased premiums; freezing the income levels to determine “means testing” for both Part B and Part D for ten years, which will ensnare more seniors with increased premiums as time goes on and incomes rise; and the so-called “Medicare commission” the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  TSCL was also disappointed that the PPACA did not address a long term solution to the so-called “doc fix.”

TSCL hopes to see Congress consider Medicare reform which does not push extra costs onto already struggling beneficiaries.