Richard Ybarra Signing Off: I just wanted to say farewell to all of you. It has been both an honor and a pleasure to have managed the Web presence for PSM over the past two years. I enjoyed writing this blog each week and watching its readership greatly expand. Your comments have always been interesting to read, and I encourage you to continue to participate. I wish all of you great success in your endeavors. Here is the first blog post from my successor Lauren Hidalgo:
Campaign Fear Themes: Medicare vs. Social Security
Democrats and Republicans have begun the battle for votes from older voters who consistently turn out for midterm elections. Republicans say Democrats will cut Medicare by $500 billion and Democrats say Republicans plan to cut Social Security. Thus, forcing voters to choose between either potentially losing their health care or losing their financial support. Each party denies the allegations yet continues to invest millions of dollars into advertisements, hoping to sway voters with fear tactics. In the 2006 election 30% of voters were 60 and over and that number continues to grow. Therefore, their loyalties will continue to be pursued.
New Required Checks for Medicare
A new anti-fraud law, proposed Monday, will require Medicare to verify claims first, acting more like a credit card company and flagging suspicious bills. This proposed law could limit wasteful government health care spending and save taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Sen. George LeMieux, a Republican from Florida, sponsored the bill because he is tired of seeing unnecessary, or false, service charges and then having to chase the culprit to recoup a fraction of the money lost. He estimates the cost to implement the technology for this program, which would process claims for both hospitalization and outpatient services, would cost $930 million over the next decade but the anticipated savings would far exceed the expense.
New Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Chief
On Monday, Dr. Richard Gilfillan's appointment as acting director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation became public. He has experience as the former president and chief executive officer of Geisinger Health System; as well as, executive vice president of insurance operations for Geisinger Health System, which is a based in Pennsylvania integrated health system that is often a model of how be cost effective in Medicare. During the 2008 election, Gilfillan contributed the maximum allowed $2,300 to President Obama's campaign.
Examining Health Reform's Effect on Medicare Advantage
On Monday, four Senate Republicans asked the top Medicare accountant to release the results of his analysis of health reform's impending effect; as well as, a breakdown of the impact based on "rural versus urban areas" and "an estimate of how much less [MA] plans will be able to spend per member per month on reduced cost-sharing and extra benefits" on the Medicare Advantage program. They fear the new cuts to Medicare Advantage may cause some plans to fold while still others will be forced to drop benefits in order to stay profitable. This comes just a week after Obama released estimates that Medicare Advantage is projected to jump 5% next year and average premiums will fall by 1%. The Republicans have requested the information be released by October 8, 2010.
Sources: The Hill, NPR, CMS, KHN, The Miami Herald