BY SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Medicare and its beneficiaries aren’t the winners in the behind-the-scenes rebate game played by drug makers, health insurers, and pharmacy benefit managers, according to a paper published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The paper, which dives into the complex and opaque world of Medicare drug price negotiations, finds that rebates may actually drive up the amount Medicare and its beneficiaries pay for drugs — especially for increasingly common high-priced drugs — and it offers some solutions. (read more)
BY EMILY MONGAN: Lawmakers called on Congress last week to continue funding a program that helps beneficiaries navigate Medicare, following the administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposing to cut it entirely.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which provides counselors to Medicare beneficiaries to help with enrollment, choosing plans and appealing coverage denials, found itself on the chopping block for the second time in a year under last week’s budget plan.
A previous Senate spending bill suggested cutting the agency in order to spend its $52 million on other issues, such as the Medicare appeals backlog or the opioid epidemic. (read more)
BY HOWARD GLECKMAN: Americans age 40 and older continued to be flummoxed by the challenges of long-term care financing, but increasingly believe that Medicare ought to provide such supports and services. According to a new poll by the Associated Press-University of Chicago NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC), support for a Medicare long-term care benefit has grown significantly over the past five years. And for the first time since the survey began, a majority of Republicans favor Medicare long-term care.
The survey, funded by the SCAN Foundation, confirmed prior research that found that Americans are woefully unprepared for long-term care and deeply misunderstand how much such care costs or how it currently is financed. Fifty-seven percent say they expect to rely on Medicare for supports and services (even though the program currently does not provide long-term care benefits). Only one-quarter think they’ll get help from Medicaid (which does, but only if you are very frail and impoverished). Half are counting on Social Security (even though average benefits would pay for less than fifteen percent of the cost of a typical nursing home and perhaps one-third of the cost of assisted living. (read more)
The new Medicare Plus Card saves you up to 75% on things not covered by Medicare
Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Luckily, those on Medicare can now start saving on out of pocket expenses like prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, and more. Over 1 million people have already received their free Medicare Plus Card.