Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Medicare for All Might Require Student Debt Relief to Work

BY ALEXANDER SAMMON: American health care, per an old aphorism, is a “pay more, get less” system. Studies have shown that the United States pays about twice as much as other high-income nations for health care. Despite higher spending, U.S. life expectancies have declined for the third consecutive year, while the infant mortality rate remains among the highest in the industrialized world. Some 28 million people are uninsured, while another 85 million with insurance don’t seek care due to prohibitive out-of-pocket costs.

And so, it is little surprise that health care is again shaping up to be a predominant issue in the 2020 election cycle, much as it was in 2018, and 2012, and 2010—and nearly every recent U.S. voting year. Both sides of the aisle argue that the status quo is insufficient. Republicans have again taken up the fight against Obamacare, with the Department of Justice now arguing that the entire bill should be thrown out. Democrats, on the other hand, especially the presidential hopefuls—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris—have begun to coalesce around some version of a Medicare for All proposal—including a bill introduced in the House of Representatives. (read more)

Experts discover historic roots of Medicare for All, public option and free-market proposals

BY PHYSICIANS FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM: As political leaders debate the future of the U.S. health care system, a pair of health financing experts discovered that all of the current proposals—from Medicare for All to “repeal and replace”—have been circulating in various forms since the 1940s.

In an article published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “Medicare for All and its rivals: new offshoots of old health policy roots,” longtime health care researchers Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., and David U. Himmelstein, M.D., reveal the historical foundations of today’s health care debate.  (read more)

U.S. government boosts 2020 Medicare payments to insurers by 2.53 percent

BY CAROLINE HUMER: The U.S. government on Monday said it would increase by 2.53 percent on average 2020 payments to the health insurers that manage Medicare Advantage insurance plans for seniors and the disabled, a reflection of a new estimate on medical cost growth.

The rate, which affects how much insurers charge for monthly healthcare premiums, plan benefits and, ultimately, how much they profit, represents an increase over the 1.59 percent increase proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in February. (read more)

Medicare Part D Spending on Insulin Increased 840 Percent Between 2007 and 2017

BY HENRY J KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: Medicare Part D spending on insulin increased 840 percent between 2007 and 2017, far outpacing growth in the number of beneficiaries using insulin therapy, according to a new KFF analysis.

The findings come at a time when the cost of prescription drugs is a major focus for policymakers in Washington, with rising prices for insulin drawing particular scrutiny, including from members of Congress. (read more)

Counties With More Trees and Shrubs Spend Less on Medicare, Study Finds

BY GOOD NEWS NETWORK: An exciting new study says that trees may be good for more than just the scenery – they might also reduce the costs of health care across the county.

A new study from the University of Illinois finds that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrub-lands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover.

The relationship persists even when accounting for economic, geographic or other factors that might independently influence health care costs, researchers report.  (read more)

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