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Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Biggest U.S. health insurer slams Democrats’ ‘Medicare for all’ proposals

BY DREW ARMSTRONG and JOHN TOZZI BLOOMBERG: The U.S.’s biggest health insurer sharply criticized the “Medicare for All” proposals being debated by Democrats, wading into a heated Washington political debate that’s likely to dominate the 2020 presidential race and the conversation about the future of private health plans in America.

For months, health insurers have kept mostly quiet about the proposal, the most-ambitious versions of which would replace privately financed health coverage with Medicare, the government program that covers about 60 million mostly elderly Americans. On Tuesday, UnitedHealth Group’s chief executive officer said such proposals would amount to a “wholesale disruption of American health care.” (read more)

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Nation’s biggest health insurer wades into the ‘Medicare for all’ fight

BY BLOOMBERG: UnitedHealth Group Inc., the United States’ biggest health insurer, sharply criticized the “Medicare for all” proposals being debated by Democrats — wading into a heated political debate that’s likely to dominate the 2020 presidential race and the conversation about the future of private health plans in America.

For months, health insurers have kept mostly quiet about the proposal, whose most ambitious versions would replace privately financed health coverage with Medicare, the government program that covers about 60 million mostly elderly Americans. On Tuesday, UnitedHealth’s chief executive said such proposals would amount to a “wholesale disruption of American healthcare.” (read more)

OPINION: Medicare payment rules hinder the fight against superbugs

BY KEVIN OUTTERSON and HELEN W. BOUCHER: Late last year, a retirement community in Vermont was quarantined after an outbreak of antibiotic resistant bacteria swept through the facility, sickening 70 seniors. In pediatric oncology wards, children beating cancer are increasingly felled by drug-resistant bacteria and fungal infections. Every week, we hear more stories of infections that have become untreatable due to resistance.

Such alarms, once rare, are becoming more commonplace. Bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that have become resistant to antimicrobial drugs — often dubbed superbugs — thrive in communities with high antibiotic use like nursing homes, hospitals, and preschools. In one recent study, drug-resistant bacteria were detected in 1 in 4 nursing home residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that health departments found more than 220 instances of “unusual” antibiotic resistance in 2017 spread across more than half of states in the U.S. According to the CDC, these bacteria “can spread like wildfire” and some of the infections were resistant to every antibiotic available.  (read more)

Senators worry that Trump administration rule change will raise Medicare premiums

BY SHIRA SCHOENBERG: Two state senators are joining with advocates in raising concerns that a new rule proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration will hurt Massachusetts seniors with Medicare coverage.

The proposed change is part of a plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs. But a national group is warning it will have the unintended side effect of raising Medicare premiums. (read more)

Sanders courts GOP voters with ‘Medicare for All’ plan

BY PETER SULLIVAN: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is trying to use “Medicare for All” to win over white working-class voters, many of whom supported President Trump in 2016.

The 2020 candidate went on Fox News, Trump’s turf, on Monday night for a town hall, where audience members cheered when asked if they would support Medicare for All. Sanders shared the clip on social media several times the following day.

“I understand why some had concerns about BernieSanders going on Fox,” Sanders’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir tweeted after the event. “But if you watched that home run performance for the last hour, you also realized this is the ticket to beating Trump.” (read more)

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