Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare

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More Medicare Plan Choice: Helpful or Confusing?

BY MINDY YOCHELSON: Is more better when it comes to health-plan choice?

Medicare is leaning toward that position in a proposed rule published this week for its Medicare Advantage managed care program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is considering doing away with what it calls “artificial limits” on MA plans

Currently, MA plans offered by the same sponsor in the same county have to be substantially different from each other in terms of premiums, cost sharing, and benefits. (read more)



GOP senator says tax cuts must be followed by ‘structural changes to Social Security and Medicare’

BY PETER WEBER: Senate Republicans started the clock for a final vote on their tax plan Wednesday evening, but among the unresolved demands from GOP waverers is a provision to prevent the bill from adding up to $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years. No serious analysis has suggested the growth from slashing taxes for corporations and other businesses would make up that shortfall, and Republicans haven’t offered any evidence. At a Politico Playbook forum on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that cutting taxes needs to be followed by cutting spending on popular federal programs. (read more)

Tax reform bill could devastate Medicaid, Medicare, groups warn

BY EMILY MONGAN: With a Senate vote on the GOP’s tax reform bill expected to come before the end of the week, advocacy groups are urging lawmakers to reject the legislation for its potentially “drastic” effect on Medicare and Medicaid.

The tax plan, which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month, has garnered criticism from healthcare provider groups for provisions they say could hurt seniors, such as its elimination of the medical expense deduction. (read more)

Important deadline for changing Medicare coverage near

BY JESSICA BEKKER: For those over 65 looking to change their Medicare coverage, an important deadline is quickly approaching.

Medicare enrollees have until Dec. 7 to change an existing plan for the next year.

During open enrollment, Medicare patients can switch or enroll in a new prescription drug plan, or change their coverage from traditional Medicare to a privately run Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. A Medicare Advantage plan offers extra benefits for a monthly premium. (read more)

Trump’s Medicare Director Says Patient Empowerment Key To U.S. Health Fix

BY BRUCE JAPSEN: Patients should be armed with more information and have more “skin in the game,” the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the Trump administration said Thursday at the 2017 Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York.

Seema Verma, a former healthcare industry consultant tapped by Donald Trump to run CMS said patients need more information to choose the best physicians. They also need incentives so they aren’t just choosing a provider because it’s paid for. (read more)

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