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Old 02-22-2014, 09:50 AM  
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is online now
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Government about to announce cuts in Medicare

This should set well with older Americans. Senate Candidates must be ready to stab themselves with help like this coming from the Emperors Folks. The Cuts were in the bill but like everything else with this monster of a turd, its meaningless till it hits home. If in fact the cuts are passed on, it will be interesting to see what outfits like AARP who has been a Obama campaign arm will do or say.


U.S. health insurers brace for new steep Medicare cuts
BY CAROLINE HUMER
NEW YORK Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:06am EST

(Reuters) - The U.S. government is expected to announce this week the proposed payment rates for insurer-run Medicare plans in 2015, but industry officials say the anticipated cuts will mean higher co-pays and fewer benefits for seniors.

Of the more than 50 million older Americans who receive coverage through Medicare, about 15 million are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans offered by companies such as UnitedHealth Group Inc, Humana Inc and Aetna Inc. The rest use Medicare fee-for-service programs, in which doctors are reimbursed by the government for patient visits and procedures.

Each February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposes reimbursement rates that it agrees to pay insurers for managing the privately run programs. It publishes a final rate 45 days later.

Insurers are bracing for a proposed cut of around 6 to 7 percent when the government makes the information public in an announcement expected on Friday, according to the latest industry and analyst forecasts. Health insurance executives have been lobbying against cuts of that magnitude, saying they would have no choice but to pass on a significant part to seniors to keep their business intact.

Aetna, which has about 1 million Medicare Advantage members, said that to keep costs in line with cuts in recent years, it has changed its network of doctors and hospitals to be more cost-effective, among other efforts.

"If you can't solve the reduction based on those activities, then you have to resort to things that are much more visible to the beneficiaries, which can range from benefit reductions, and either premium increases or the introduction of a premium," said Fran Soistman, executive vice president and head of Government Services at Aetna.

Another possibility for insurers is eliminating plans and withdrawing from certain markets. Many did that last year after the government cut rates by nearly 6 percent.

"The concern is that a second consecutive 6 percent cut to the program will be devastating for seniors," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for the healthcare industry's key trade and lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans. Their campaign has included TV, print and online advertising as well as a sign on Washington city buses, telling viewers that "Seniors are Watching" when it comes to Medicare Advantage benefits.

CONTAINING LEAKS

The announcement could put pressure on President Barack Obama's administration as it defends its signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, from attack ahead of the 2014 elections. Early technical failures hampered enrollment in insurance plans and new fees and healthcare taxes have gone into effect, providing Republican opponents of the law with ammunition to call for its delay.

Insurers, which worked closely with the government to help fix early enrollment problems, are hoping that partnership will help their lobbying effort to influence the 2015 Medicare rates.

The U.S. government has been cutting payment rates for Medicare Advantage as part of an overall reduction in healthcare spending required under the law and as it seeks to bring the program fees closer to the ones it pays through the Medicare fee-for-service program.

CMS is balancing the need for these spending cuts with the potential political backlash. A group of 40 senators, both Republicans and Democrats, recently called on the agency to maintain Medicare Advantage payment levels and prevent disruption.

The rate announcement due out this week has been widely anticipated by insurers and investors this year, after information on last year's release of the final rates was leaked to investors ahead of time. As a result of that, stocks in insurers with large Medicare Advantage businesses jumped higher just before the market close because the payments were not as low as investors had expected.

A Wall Street Journal report found that a lobbyist who was working for Humana had been involved in the leak. The story prompted investigations by the Department of Justice, Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, Humana (which fired the law firm of the lobbyist), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its Office of the Inspector General.

When asked about any changes the agency is taking this year concerning the announcement, a spokeswoman for CMS said that the agency is "committed to releasing Medicare payment policies in a time and manner that is appropriate and consistent with statutory requirements." She did not provide a comment on the probe into last year's incident.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Office of the Inspector General declined to comment.

Humana did not have an immediate response, and Grassley's office did not return a call seeking comment.

This week's announcement is unlikely to affect industry stocks unless it comes in far below or far above 6 percent, according to CRT Capital analyst Sheryl Skolnick.

"It is by no means a secret. Everyone knows it is coming and everyone knows it is going to be bad," Skolnick said.

The final rate announcement is expected on April 7.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Amanda Kwan and Ken Wills)
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Old 02-25-2014, 01:51 PM   #16
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ACA will make medicare look like a stepchild. Low sign ups will drive young peoples costs through the roof. Administration costs cant even be calculated on the failed roll out and taxpayers will be bailing out insurance companies like never before seen. You are right medicare is in trouble. But ACA is way bigger
In reality, of course, the ACA is a drop in the bucket compared to Medicare which is overwhelmingly responsible for our overspending and debt problems. That doesn't mean the ACA spending shouldn't also be cut significantly, it definitely should, but Medicare is a much, much bigger problem.

As for who will bear the brunt of Medicare cuts, obviously most will be borne by the people who are dependent on this federal program for their health care. Ideally it would be 100%, of course, but because of the structure of our hospital industry and their reliance on the program, a share of the costs will also be borne by firms in the health industry and non-Medicare consumers. That's fine. What matters most is they will be not be borne by taxpayers and endless deficits unless culture warriors like HCF have their way and keep the gravy train running.
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:08 PM   #17
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Except republicans want to make no changes to the system for anyone over 55. Just screw over people in their 40s like me. Oh yeah I forgot - according to republicans I'll be fine because I now know I need to save $2M in an HSA in case I get bone cancer. I have enough time to plan accordingly.
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:19 PM   #18
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Are we giving Medicaid a free pass here?

No one is talking about it?

Are we just wanting the old people to die off?
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:25 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by King_Chief_Fan View Post
Are we giving Medicaid a free pass here?

No one is talking about it?

Are we just wanting the old people to die off?
No free pass from me, Medicaid is a problem too. Medicaid and Medicare are increasingly intertwined, roughly 2/3 of Medicaid spending goes to the elderly, for instance.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:18 PM   #20
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No free pass from me, Medicaid is a problem too. Medicaid and Medicare are increasingly intertwined, roughly 2/3 of Medicaid spending goes to the elderly, for instance.
Too many old people and too many poor people getting sick and stuff. We need to shift responsibility for this to somebody. Damn sure not to people in their 40s like suzzer said. Nobody gives a shit about the 40 somethings.

Cut the entitlements but not my entitlement. Right?
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:30 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post

Cut the entitlements but not my entitlement. Right?
Sounds like a pretty accurate summary of your position. Cry about spending but then cry even louder that your precious government benefits might be reduced a tiny bit.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:06 PM   #22
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Sounds like a pretty accurate summary of your position. Cry about spending but then cry even louder that your precious government benefits might be reduced a tiny bit.
You dont have a clue of my position.

In case you wake up, what they are doing is increasing the cost on all those not on medicare. Those who are wont see a benefit cut nor a cost increase. You are high fiveing the fact you thought somebody else lost while they suck more cash from you.

Adrift in a sea of stupid. Have nice trip.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:44 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
You dont have a clue of my position.

In case you wake up, what they are doing is increasing the cost on all those not on medicare. Those who are wont see a benefit cut nor a cost increase. You are high fiveing the fact you thought somebody else lost while they suck more cash from you.

Adrift in a sea of stupid. Have nice trip.
This is just sad. Here, quit your hissy fit and I'll lay this out for you nice and slow:

1) The government is reducing the amount it pays providers for Medicare health benefits.

2) This means less money coming out of my pocket (as a taxpayer) going to entitlement programs.

3) The cost of these cuts is going to be felt by people dependent on Medicare (mostly Medicare Advantage) for their health care. If you are confused about this, try reading the article you posted. Here is the very first sentence:

Quote:
The U.S. government is expected to announce this week the proposed payment rates for insurer-run Medicare plans in 2015, but industry officials say the anticipated cuts will mean higher co-pays and fewer benefits for seniors.
4) This means more seniors paying for their own health care and depending less on government to pay it for them. You may have your panties all in a bunch over this, but most of us would agree this is a good thing.

If you are still confused I don't think there is anything I can do to help you.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:52 PM   #24
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You couldnt help yourself. Sad. You are the people who are so easily taken in and never understand why you are always losing. Enjoy those premiums and taxes.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:56 PM   #25
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You couldnt help yourself. Sad. You are the people who are so easily taken in and never understand why you are always losing. Enjoy those premiums and taxes.


Pathetic. Just admit you are pissed off that mean old Obama wants to take some of your free govt goodies away. We can all see that's what is going on.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:02 AM   #26
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No free pass from me, Medicaid is a problem too. Medicaid and Medicare are increasingly intertwined, roughly 2/3 of Medicaid spending goes to the elderly, for instance.
the premiums for the federal health insurance program for seniors - (Medicare) should be increased....you know make the young and healthy pay for the more senior and most likely to need coverage.....oh wait, that sounds vaguely similar/familiar....hmmmm where have I heard that one?
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:24 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by King_Chief_Fan View Post
Are we giving Medicaid a free pass here?

No one is talking about it?

Are we just wanting the old people to die off?
Medicare and Medicaid haven't been properly funded in decades. The government couldn't pay for the promises they had already made, before enacting another entitlement.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:28 AM   #28
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Sounds like a pretty accurate summary of your position. Cry about spending but then cry even louder that your precious government benefits might be reduced a tiny bit.
Some of us actually have been paying for that shit for a while. God forbid we expect to get something we paid for. This isn't a free ride on the government bus.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:46 AM   #29
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Some of us actually have been paying for that shit for a while. God forbid we expect to get something we paid for. This isn't a free ride on the government bus.
The average Medicare user today is getting 3-4 times more in benefits than they ever paid in and this is projected to continue and worsen in the future. The program is out of control and needs to be cut down dramatically.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:58 AM   #30
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The average Medicare user today is getting 3-4 times more in benefits than they ever paid in and this is projected to continue and worsen in the future. The program is out of control and needs to be cut down dramatically.
So those of us that are working and paying for these people to get 3 to 4 times what they paid in will get nothing and like it when its our turn. I mean, that's pretty much what I have expected most of my adult life, but that doesn't make it not suck.
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