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How Obama’s 2016 proposed budget hurts older Americans

Written by Diane Archer

The President’s 2016 proposed budget hurts older Americans with Medicare. While it contains many commendable proposals, it mistakenly buys into the philosophy that it’s OK to tax older Americans (make them pay more) and keep them from getting care if they are unable to afford the Medicare deductible or the copays.  President Obama proposes to raise the Medicare deductible, impose a copay on home health care services and increase premiums for many older adults already at risk.  If that’s not bad enough, he wants people to pay extra for a Medicare supplemental (Medigap) policy that ensures full coverage for their care.

Think again, Mr. President. High deductibles and copays are simply ways to ration care based on people’s ability to pay. They impede access to needed care for the most vulnerable Americans in two sinister ways.  First, they keep many older adults from getting care altogether, essentially forcing them to endure a poor quality of life and possibly contributing to their premature death.  Second, they undo the larger purpose of insurance, concentrating risk and costs among those who need a lot of care rather than spreading risk among everyone.

People with Medicare already typically spend a large chunk of their incomes on health care costs Medicare does not cover.  The latest data from Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that in 2010 the typical person with Medicare spent almost $5000 out of pocket.  People over 85 spent an average of nearly $6000.  And, people with Alzheimer’s spent an average of $8305.

There’s a just and fair way to reduce Medicare spending further without shifting more costs onto older adults—insist the government negotiate with pharmaceutical and medical device companies on the prices we taxpayers pay for prescription drugs and devices, now the highest prices in the world. That would save Medicare billions of dollars. Yes, the President proposes giving the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate prices for biologics and select high-priced drugs. This is good but the authority needs to be comprehensive and include all drugs.

Imposing additional costs on America’s oldest generation, the overwhelming majority of whom live on small fixed incomes, is unconscionable. Look at the data. Isn’t it time we limited out-of-pocket costs for people with Medicare to ensure they receive needed care. Increasing their costs only guarantees that more of them will struggle to get by.

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11 Comments

  • BAIT and SWITCH hardship onto seniors! EYE on 2-year free college and we screw the elders who already cannot survive on a taxed and underpaid Social Security. America needs better leaders for the people! Both Democrats and Republicans work for the 1% and not the people. Our people deserve so much more. Get out of ME wars, too! We can’t afford more insanity for oil corporations.

  • After losing 1/3 of my pension to Wall St, I am forced to pay 1/4 of my income just for supplement insurance. And now we may be forced to pay more!!! Makes me wonder why I worked for 49 years when apparently all I had to do was learn to lie and cheat. These seem to be the qualities that get rewarded.

    • Barb – I’m with you. I worked for 52 years, retiring at age 70. Like you, I lost a 1/3 of my pension during the Bush administration and am paying 1/4 of my income for supplemental insurance. I wish I had done things so differently, but unfortunately I believed that Social Security would be there. As far as my IRA goes, there’s little hope that it will ever regain what I had and what the Bush Administration and Wall Street stole from me.

  • I know the budget is out but seems like we Seniors could have been taken care of better. To increase the deductible for Medicare A & B and then pay the increased premiums for Secondary Insurance is not leaving much money in a Seniors pocket book to pay the premiums for Medicare D and increase cost sharing of the medication, especially since the Plans are allowed to change the Tier of a Medication that you have been taking and keeping your Blood test regulated. You have to start with a new medication that may not or it’s derivative didn’t do the job, what is the Senior patient to do, Trust That God Will See How the Elderly are Care For, and Take Pity.

  • Obama has repeatedly given the shaft to us old folks. A few years ago, his hand-picked Bowles/Simpson commission met to discuss reducing the deficit. The commission recommended big cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Obama endorsed it. Now he wants to screw us again.

  • Obama has lost my support and unless Hillary can reverse this, she’s off my lust also. I’ve been a democrat all my long life but this has made me bitter and apolitical. No more donations to pacs,or candidates. I’ve noticed thatnone of these groups give you any means of communicating your thoughts to them. It wouldbe nice if you publish a way to get the president’s attention.

    We have been betrayed !!

  • Year 2014 got a $17.00 raise and then was charged $135.00 to pay my own Social Security that I never had to pay before. This 2015 got a $22.00 raise and now I half to pay $24.90 every month plus pay for my prescriptions which I already was. The help Obama gave me on my social security I do not need. I have no check now and the house insurance and the car insurances and I have an old car are eating me up alive. I am also still paying on my house. Where is my money for Food .. Figure that one out Obama

  • I live on a small SS stipend. I already have a difficulty paying the additional charges of drugs, tests and copays and can’t buy my one medication because the least expensive advantage plan added a prepay amount before you can use your drug plan. Please Mr. President.. no more for seniors..at least those who live on very small SS incomes.

  • I work as a discharge planner at a hospital, and I have seen benefits slashed for the elderly already (under Medicare). Just try to get medical equipment for people now, it is horrific, and medications also extremely difficult, especially if they are expensive ones. And now Seniors are going to take more hits???? This is deplorable.

    • Medicare will start on the first day of your birth month unless you were born on the first day. In your case it will start on May 1. If you were born on May 1 it would start on April 1. It never sttras on any other day of the month.You have a certain time period to sign up. If you are on social security your Medicare card will automatically be sent to you around 3 months prior to your birth month. If you are not on social security most likely you will have to sign up by contacting the social security office. You can sign up during a 7 month window which is 3 months prior to your birth month, your birth month, and 3 months after your birth month. If you sign up during or after your birth month Medicare will be effective the first day of the following month. For example, if you turn 65 on May 22 this year and you haven’t contacted social security or received your card you need to do this now and Medicare will be effective June first. If you wait until sometime in June to sign up it will be effective July 1. If you do not sign up by August 31 your next window will be January 1 through March 1 for a July 1 effective date, plus you will have a Part B penalty to pay monthly forever.

  • This system is by no means foploorof. A patient is required to get a new referral for each session of therapy he/she wishes (or as in my case, needs) to attend. Also, at the start of every session there are about 15 minutes wasted due to the amount of paperwork which the government requires to be filled out. Social bureaucracies are alive and well but it’s still a far better system than we had previously. I just wish the government passed this bill when I was 15, not 32.

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