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Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Kamala Harris and Michael Bloomberg Clash on Medicare for All

BY MAGGIE ASTOR: A day after Senator Kamala Harris of California endorsed ending private health insurance in favor of a “Medicare for all” government plan, Michael R. Bloomberg, a possible rival of hers for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the proposal would “bankrupt us for a very long time.”

Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is considering a 2020 bid on a centrist Democratic platform, rejected the idea of “Medicare for all,” which has been gaining traction among Democrats.

“I think you could never afford that. You’re talking about trillions of dollars,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a political swing in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first primary in 2020. (read more)

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There's never been an easy way for Medicare beneficiaries to save on services and products not covered by Medicare alone, until now.

Majority favor ‘Medicare-for-all,’ but with a catch

BY GRACE SPARKS: Most Americans want a version of Medicare for everyone, which is good news for presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and other Democrats who support “Medicare-for-all,” a national health care proposal in which people would get their insurance from a single government plan.

But there is an enormous catch: Not all Medicare expansion plans are the same and there is more support for some than for others.
Harris spoke in Iowa on Monday about embracing Medicare-for-all, even though in most instances it means eliminating private insurance. When pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on whether that means eliminating private insurance, the senator from California answered affirmatively, saying she would be OK with cutting insurers out of the mix. (read more)

New app displays what original medicare covers

BY JACK CHEEVERS: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched a new app that gives consumers a modernized Medicare experience with direct access on a mobile device to some of the most-used content on Medicare.gov.

The new “What’s Covered” app lets people with original Medicare, caregivers and others quickly see whether Medicare covers a specific medical item or service.

Consumers can use their mobile devices to more easily get accurate, consistent Medicare coverage information in the doctor’s office, the hospital or anywhere else they use their mobile device. (read more)

The Out-of-Pocket Cost Burden for Specialty Drugs in Medicare Part D in 2019

BY JULLIETTE CUBANSKI, WYATT KOMA, and TRICIA NEUMAN: Medicare Part D has helped to make prescription drugs more affordable for people with Medicare, yet many beneficiaries continue to face high out-of-pocket costs for their medications. Specialty tier drugs—defined by Medicare as drugs that cost more than $670 per month in 2019—are a particular concern for Part D enrollees in this context. Part D plans are allowed to charge between 25 percent and 33 percent coinsurance for specialty tier drugs before enrollees reach the coverage gap, where they pay 25 percent for all brands, followed by 5 percent coinsurance when total out-of-pocket spending exceeds an annual threshold ($5,100 in 2019). While specialty tier drugs are taken by a relatively small share of enrollees, spending on these drugs has increased over time and now accounts for over 20 percent of total Part D spending, up from about 6 to 7 percent before 2010. (read more)

Here’s a Democratic health care plan—without ‘Medicare for all’

BY RICK NEWMAN: Before getting into politics, John Delaney started and ran two financial-services companies that turned healthy profits and made him wealthy. So he understands that you can only spend what you can afford.

After three terms as a Congressman from Maryland, Delaney is now among the small army of Democrats running for president in 2020. And while he’s focusing on health care, like other Democrats, he’s not advocating a hyper-expensive “Medicare for all” program that would centralize all health care in Washington. Instead, he’s proposing a basic set of federal benefits for all Americans—and a way to pay for it. There would still be room for private-sector coverage offering additional perks and services.

“I favor a government plan for every American as a right … and then the ability of individuals to buy supplementals,” Delaney told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview in Washington, DC. “The basic idea is everybody would have some basic level of coverage provided by the government. But a lot of people would want to get more benefits on top of that.” (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.

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