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Sequester Cuts: Payments to Medicare Doctors

Due to the sequester, doctors face a 2% cut in Medicare reimbursements:

The bottom line is that doctors who treat Medicare beneficiaries will only be reimbursed 98 cents on every dollar for a vast array of services. Reimbursement for low-income beneficiaries is exempt.

...The cuts could make it harder for patients to get care, [AMA President Jeremy] Lazarus added. "One in five Medicare patients already is facing difficulties in finding a doctor to take them. If you cut their pay, this access problem will only get worse."

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NY Times: Don't Believe Republicans on Medicare

The New York Times has an editorial today on Obama and Romney/Ryan's dueling and confusing positions on Medicare. It fact checks the major points and concludes:

In the Medicare arena, the choice is between a Democratic approach that wants to retain Medicare as a guaranteed set of benefits with the government paying its share of the costs even if costs rise, and a Republican approach that wants to limit the government’s spending to a defined level, relying on untested market forces to drive down insurance costs.

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Romney Proposes Raising Medicare Eligibility Age in 2022

Mitt Romney today proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age in 2022. He also proposed restrictions on future social security benefits.

Romney said his proposals for Medicare and Social Security would begin in 2022, meaning no current or near-retirees would be affected. He also said he favors adjustments to curtail the growth of future benefits for the relatively well-to-do, so "lower-income seniors would receive the most generous benefits.

Beginning in 2022, Romney said, "we will gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age by one month each year. In the long run, the eligibility ages for both programs will be indexed to longevity so that they increase only as fast as life expectancy."

That's not as bad as the plan Obama was considering, which would have implemented the age increase in 2013, giving those approaching age 65 insufficient time to make plans to pay for another two years of private medical insurance. [More...]

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Obama's Deficit Cutting Plan: No Raise in Medicare Eligibility Age

President Obama took a stand for Democrats and seniors today. I'm canceling his pink slip notice.

Obama's plan to cut the nation's deficit is already being attacked by Republicans. The plan is in line with Democratic values. Why should those who make more than a million dollars a year pay tax only at the rate of 15%, when so many of us who earn far less are taxed at 35%? The Bush tax cuts should have been repealed a long time ago.

The plan also calls for $1 trillion in cuts for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Most importantly:

The plan doesn't touch Social Security, and there is no proposed increase in the Medicare eligibility age -- a cost-saving plan the president was willing to agree to earlier in the year, to the dismay of liberals.

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Report: Obama Won't Seek to Raise Medicare Eligibility Age

I so hope this is true:

The plan includes no changes in Social Security and does not include an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, which the president had considered this summer.

If it's accurate, I'm withdrawing my pink slip to President Obama. I'll even thank him.

Update: Obama Deficit Plan Aimed at Democratic Base.

Stay tuned.

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Business Owners Say Job Plan Won't Cause Them to Hire More Workers

From the New York Times: Business owners say Obama's jobs plan won't cause them to hire new workers.

That sentiment was echoed across numerous industries by executives in companies big and small on Friday, underscoring the challenge for the Obama administration as it tries to encourage hiring and perk up the moribund economy.

The stock market fell big time yesterday, wiping out all gains for the week. Guess Wall St. wasn't impressed either.[More...]

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Obama in 2009: Medicare and Social Security "Entitlements" Must Be Fixed

Here's President Obama just after he was elected in 2009, promising "reform" of both Medicare and Social Security.

President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare "bargain" with the American people, saying that the nation's long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.

..."What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," he said. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."

.... "Social Security, we can solve," he said, waving his left hand. "The big problem is Medicare, which is unsustainable. . . . We can't solve Medicare in isolation from the broader problems of the health-care system."

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Obama's Plan: Spare Me the Tax Cuts, Give Me My Medicare

I'm finally learning the meaning of hope and change. Three years ago, hope and change seemed like a slogan to roll your eyes at. No more. Now it's becoming something to strive for. But it's not the hope and change Obama can bring us, he's already failed that test. It's the hope for change we have at the thought of him leaving and taking his ineffective administration with him.

Onto last night's speech. Obama is so transparent. His speech was all about construction workers, teachers, and veterans, and instilling fear of China and South Korea, because they are out to take our jobs. He went for the "heartland." As if all he has to do is proclaim South Koreans should be driving Fords and it will be so.

More importantly, as always, his plan leaves those on the fringe out to dry. And that includes seniors (who according to Obama are causing the health care system to implode by their sheer numbers), those who don't own businesses, and those who need affordable health care more than they need a $1,500 tax break. [More...]

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Obama's Inching Closer to His Pink Slip

The SuperCommittee Henchmen meet today. Raising medicare eligibility to age 67 is on the table for discussions. The Democrats have submitted a memo with various proposed changes and a discussion of each. Here's the memo. Raising the eligibility age appears on page 7.

President Obama proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of the debt-ceiling agreement, but Democrats are hardly united behind the policy.

The Democrats note that it's not going to be a money saver -- it's just going to shift who pays the money. They give the same reasons I gave last month. [More...]

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Take Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Off the Table, Please

The ink isn't even dry yet on the horrid compromise budget bill which was supposed to shield Medicare beneficiaries, but already there's renewed talk of raising the eligibility age for Medicare, which now likely will happen since Obama has already said it's okay with him. It will probably be one of the first things the gang of 12 congressional henchman will agree on.

The Wall St. Journal today: [More...]

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Raising Medicare to 67: Not an Acceptable Option

I don't care whether the debt ceiling lift is temporary or permanent. I care that I have paid into a system my entire adult life knowing I would get Medicare at 65 and social security at 66. Republicans want to steal the money I've already paid in and put it somewhere else, making me wait another two years for Medicare. And raise my taxes at the same time.

If President Obama backs raising the age of medicare, which won't save the Government money in the long run due to the huge numbers of 65 and 66 year olds who will shift to Medicaid and who will break the backs of small businesses providing health care to elderly workers -- and which will force middle class elderly workers who don't have employer paid health care to pay premiums of ten thousand dollars a year or more for two more years, with huge deductibles and out of pocket costs, he doesn't deserve a second term as Democratic President. Let him run as as Republican or go home to Chicago. He will have sold us out.

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Checking In With Your Own Labor History

Given that Monday is Labor Day, I thought I'd take a look at my last Social Security/Medicare statment to see how much I've paid in taxes for both over my working life. The statement says I began paying into to Social Secuirty in 1965 (a part time job during high school) and continued up through the present. Given what I've paid in, and that I won't retire until 65 at the earliest, there's no way I'll get all that money back -- I won't live that long.I wonder how many people, like me, won't get their money back, either because they die, or they end up with reduced benfits due to the meme the Government is pushing that in 2014, SS will begin paying out more than it takes in, and by 2041 will not have enough to cover everyone? Why doesn't the excess paid in go back to our heirs if we die early?

I've also paid a bundle into Medicare, which I'm years away from collecting on. If I die, Medicare too keeps the money it collected from me. Do they use it to pay medical care for someone else?

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Social Security and Medicare Report

A new report on Social Security and Medicare says they will begin paying out more than they take in in taxes sooner than expected. Social Security could be depleted by 2037.

2037 is ages from now. I think we should leave social security alone. I certainly don't want to pay more in social security taxes for reduced benefits, which is one suggestion made by the report:

Social Security could be brought into actuarial balance over the next 75 years with changes equivalent to an immediate 1.6 percent increase in the payroll tax (from a rate of 12.4 percent to 14.4 percent) or an immediate reduction in benefits of 13 percent or some combination of the two. Ensuring that the system remains solvent on a sustainable basis beyond the next 75 years would require larger changes because increasing longevity will result in people receiving benefits for ever longer periods of retirement.

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Medicare Cuts Aborted, Funds Restored

At least the Senate did one thing right today. It passed the bill to restore Medicare funding that the House passed in June. And, it's veto-proof.

The vote was 69-30 -- "a veto-proof margin," said Paul Precht, spokesman for the nonprofit Medicare Rights Center. Pres. Bush had threatened to veto the bill if passed.

The cuts went into effect July 1. They included an $1,800 cap on outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy.

I know about this because this weekend I got a letter from the TL mom's nursing home saying that her therapy would end July 1 unless she agrees to pay 100% of the cost due to the Senate not getting its act together before the recess to pass the House bill that would extend the deadline for the cuts to take effect. It failed to pass the bill then by one vote. The cuts were passed in 2005 but every year Congress has voted to extend the date the cuts take effect.

Other aspects of the bill: [More...]

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