Today’s Top Medicare News

Sen. Susan Collins and tax bill

Susan Collins: waiting for final tax bill to decide on support

BY CATHY BURKE: Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday she hasn’t made a decision yet on the GOP tax-reform plan, saying it’s not clear “where the bill is going to come out” after conference committee changes.

In remarks on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” the Maine Republican’s stance comes after she said on Friday she’d consider opposing the plan if her proposed amendments weren’t included. (read more)

AARP urges lawmakers to exempt Medicare from tax bill cuts

BY EMILY MONGAN: One of the nation’s largest senior advocacy groups is warning lawmakers of the “lasting impact” of Medicare cuts that would be potentially included in the GOP’s final tax reform bill.

Provider and consumer groups alike have expressed concerns over the possibility that the bill becoming law could trigger “automatic” Medicare cuts under what’s known as the “pay-as-you-go” or PAYGO rule. That rule could result in a $25 billion cut from Medicare in fiscal year 2018 alone, which would be used to offset the debt incurred by the legislation.

The Senate version of the bill was passed earlier this month. That version will now have to be reconciled with the House version, which was approved in November. (read more)

Paul Ryan makes it official: Republicans are coming after Medicare next 

BY MICHAEL HILTZIK: Apparently emboldened by the likelihood that they’ll pass an enormous tax cut for the rich before the year is out, congressional Republicans such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., have been speaking more openly about how they’re planning to eviscerate government programs for the middle and working class.

Ryan laid out these plans the other day in a remarkable interview with Denver radio host Ross Kaminsky, a conservative and apparently a long-term Ryan supporter. During the companionable 10-minute chat, Ryan identified Medicare and Medicaid as the drivers of “the debt and the deficit.” (read more)

Column: Why 50-year-olds should be eligible for Medicare 

BY FAYE FLAM:  Yet again, the U.S. has come in last in a survey measuring the state of health in developed countries. This latest piece of disheartening news put the spotlight on people over 65, the age when Americans become eligible for Medicare. The survey, produced by the Commonwealth Fund, included more than 23,000 people from 11 developed countries, and revealed that American seniors were sicker than their counterparts in other countries and are more likely to go without needed health care because of costs.

Why should this be? For one thing, Americans are more likely to enter the 65-and-up age group with chronic diseases – heart disease, diabetes, hypertension – which aren’t curable but could have been headed off had people gotten better care earlier. (read more)

SOCIAL SECURITY: Is it Medicare or Medicaid?

BY SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: A lot of people have a difficult time understanding the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Both programs begin with the letter “M.” They’re both health insurance programs run by the government. People often ask questions about what Medicare and Medicaid are, what services they cover, and who administers the programs.

Let’s start with Medicare. Medicare is the national healthcare program for those aged 65 or older and the disabled. You pay for some Medicare expenses by paying the Medicare tax while you work. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the agency in charge of both Medicare and Medicaid, but you sign up for Medicare A (Hospital) and Medicare B (Medical) through Social Security(read more)

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