The big news of the week was not so much the passing of the Senate Finance Committee bill as was expect, but rather it was the single Republican vote of support by Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. Snowe stated that the bill is not perfect, but does represent the best balance of what has been proposed thus far. She further commented that the threat of maintaining the status quo is too great to Americans. More liberal Democrats also chimed in stating that the bill was far from their ideal, but supported it with the hope that it could be reshaped later.
President Obama described the passage as a “critical milestone” towards achieving health care reform, as the event advances current health care legislation further than any other attempt over the past several decades.
Now the Finance bill will most likely go through a process of merging with a bill passed earlier by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The big point of contention will be whether a merged bill will include a public option. The Finance Committee bill doesn’t include it, while the latter does. This process will not be a walk in the park if the merging of legislation approved by three House of Representatives Committees is any indication. The details of a merged House bill are currently the source of much frustration and struggle in the House.
As health care reform progresses, insurance companies and industry representatives are ratcheting up their opposition to much of the legislation currently under consideration. AHIP this week released a PricewaterhouseCoopers Report on the Impact of Reform Proposals on Costs that essentially states that the Finance Committee bill will raise premiums significantly for most people who already have insurance. The report can be read here. The report is currently being criticized for only analyzing four provisions of the bill. Additionally, AHIP is running TV ads in six states criticizing current legislation for making more than $100 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage and reducing benefits to seniors.
Internet Use Decreases Senior Depression: The Phoenix Center, a non-profit research group, released a report today that shows seniors who use the Internet can reduce their depression by 20%. The report further states that reducing depression can lead to decreased health care costs for both seniors and the industry in general. The report explains that the Internet facilitates increasing communications with family, friends, and society at large especially for seniors who have mobility difficulties. For the full report, click here.
No 2010 COLA Increase Official: On Thursday, the Social Security Administration officially stated that there will be no automatic Cost Of Living Adjustment. The SSA explains that due to the recession there was no inflation this year, thus no need for a COLA increase. To offset this, President Obama on Wednesday announced a $250 Economic Recovery Payment to seniors, veterans, and disabled people who have not recovered from their losses from the recession. The payments are expected to go out to more than 50 million people. For more information click here.
H1N1 Flu Information for Seniors: CMS now has a Web site with information specifically for people on Medicare and Medicaid. Click here to visit the site.
Standard Prescription Drug Benefit for 2010 Info: The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. has a great comparison chart showing info regarding Part D standard benefits Info. For more information on the subject, click here.
Sources: Associated Press, CMS, SSA, CMA, The Phoenix Center