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Medicare Drug Premiums Will Rise for Many

October 14th, 2006 by

Bush and the Democrats differ, but experts say many seniors who don’t switch plans face hikes.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Times Staff Writer

October 13, 2006

WASHINGTON — Two weeks after the Bush administration announced that Medicare prescription premiums would stay about the same next year, a new analysis by congressional Democrats indicates that for a majority of middle-class seniors, rates will jump 13% — well above the overall inflation rate. Read the rest of this entry »

Bush indicates support for Plan B

August 21st, 2006 by

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) — U.S. President George Bush indicated he supports over-the-counter sales of Plan B, a so-called morning-after contraceptive — except for minors.

Bush told a news conference at the temporary press room across from the White House he supports plans by Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to OK sales of Plan B without a prescription.

“I believe Plan B ought to be a required prescription for minors,” Bush said, adding he supports “Andy’s decision.”

Von Eschenbach testified at a U.S. Senate committee hearing last week he thinks Plan B can be sold safely to women over 18.

Medicare | Medical Device Industry Pleased With Changes to Medicare Payments

August 3rd, 2006 by

[Aug 03, 2006]
The New York Times on Thursday examined reaction to scaled-back changes in the Medicare inpatient hospital reimbursement system that were issued by CMS on Tuesday (Pear, New York Times, 8/3). The final CMS rule includes the closure of loopholes used by specialty hospitals and plans to replace the current charge-based reimbursement system with a cost-based system and to implement a severity-adjusted reimbursement system that will pay hospitals more for the treatment of sicker patients. The proposal will affect Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Government Is Sued by Five States Over Medicare Payments

March 4th, 2006 by

March 3 (Bloomberg) — Five U.S. states today sued the federal government over an expanded federal prescription-drug program that they say the government is unconstitutionally requiring them to help fund.

Attorneys general in New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky, Maine and Missouri said monthly payments to help cover the expanded Medicare prescription drug program violated their sovereignty.

“In requiring the states to pay a specified dollar amount to support a federal program, the new law eliminates our ability to exercise control over a fundamental state function — spending,'’ New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber said in a written statement.

Under the Medicare law, which took effect Jan. 1, states must repay the federal government a large chunk of the money they will save as the federal Medicare program takes over drug- benefit benefits that had been paid under Medicaid.

While some states have argued they would end up paying more under the new formula, New Jersey didn’t make such a claim and based its suit on sovereignty issues — specifically that it will be paying for a federal program it has no control over.

Farber said New Jersey wasn’t claiming that its bottom line will be hurt by the payback provision now. Instead, she said, the law hurts the state’s ability to budget for future payments because the federal government controls the formula that determines how much the state must pay.

Ellen Griffith, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, didn’t immediately return a phone call from Bloomberg News.

Senate debates stripped-down health care reform package

February 28th, 2006 by

Associated Press Writer

The Massachusetts Senate prepared to launch debate Tuesday on a stripped-down version of a health care reform package that would make insurance plans available to about half of the state’s uninsured.

Senate President Robert Travaglini unveiled the bill Monday after House and Senate negotiators failed to come up with a compromise version of two more ambitious health care reform bills. Read the rest of this entry »

Few Winners in New U.S. Health Care Budget

February 8th, 2006 by

MONDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed budget for fiscal year 2007, unveiled Monday, highlights increased funding for a potential bird flu pandemic and bioterrorism and for those battling HIV/AIDS.
Read the rest of this entry »

Health Savings Accounts Aren’t Immune to Risk

February 7th, 2006 by

By Albert B. Crenshaw
Sunday, February 5, 2006; F02

Despite a good deal of pre-State of the Union huffing and puffing, the Bush administration apparently plans to seek fairly modest changes in the law covering health savings accounts (HSAs) and other “consumer-driven” types of medical insurance. Read the rest of this entry »

Lawmakers grill CMS chief on Part D

February 3rd, 2006 by

By Laura Gilcrest
Feb 3, 2006, 19:00 GMT

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) — With Medicare`s Part D drug benefit one month out from a clumsy debut, some new problems are emerging beyond the fiasco of the automatically switched \’dual-eligibles\’ to include the dilemma of low-income seniors in assisted living having drug co-payments, while their counterparts in nursing homes do not, and complaints by cash-strapped pharmacies that the private health plans aren`t paying them on time. Read the rest of this entry »

Health Savings Accounts Spark Debate

February 2nd, 2006 by

Wednesday February 1, 2006 11:46 PM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush will try to get more people to enroll in health savings accounts by providing additional tax breaks and establishing rules that would make it easier to keep the accounts when getting a new job. Read the rest of this entry »

Health savings accounts slow to catch on

February 1st, 2006 by

Despite tax savings, few consumers have signed up for the plan

By Sharon Epperson
Updated: 3:25 p.m. ET Feb. 1, 2006

President Bush used the State of the Union address to argue that individual Americans should be given more control over their health care dollars. One proposal is to expand health savings accounts, making decisions about health care more consumer-driven and making workers control spending in an effort to bring down rising costs. Read the rest of this entry »

Nursing home residents could move into community under program

January 30th, 2006 by

ALBANY, N.Y. Senior citizens living in nursing homes could soon start moving back into communities around New York state. Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Many in new Medicare plans deprived of common drugs

January 28th, 2006 by

By Julie Appleby and Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Almost one-third of the 6.2 million Medicaid beneficiaries who were automatically switched to the new Medicare prescription drug program on Jan. 1 were put in plans that cover fewer drugs than commonly used under Medicaid, a new study shows. Read the rest of this entry »

US health chief says drug plan woes easing

January 26th, 2006 by

Leavitt aims to shore up support in visit to state
By Jeffrey Krasner, Globe Staff | January 26, 2006

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt met with Governor Mitt Romney at the State House yesterday in an effort to shore up support for the troubled Medicare drug benefit.

Leavitt acknowledged problems with the drug plan, but said they are decreasing daily.
Read the rest of this entry »

The GOP’s Medicare Drug Problem

January 25th, 2006 by

The initial furor over the controversial drug plan may be just the beginning—and it could spark a senior rebellion at election time

Republicans hope it isn’t so, but the new Medicare prescription drug program may be having more than just start-up problems. Top officials at the Health and Human Service Department and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are scrambling to fix computer snafus that have resulted in many of the some 6.4 million low-income seniors being turned away or overcharged as they are forced to shift from Medicaid drug coverage to the confounding new prescription drug program. And no one hopes more that they’ll be fixed Read the rest of this entry »

Rep. Bill Thomas: On Medicare, I Did a Heck of a Job!

January 21st, 2006 by

Ticked off no end by my column today describing the Medicare drug benefit as a fiasco and a scam, Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, responds with a letter to our editor. Thomas was an architect of the disaster, so perhaps we can understand his defensiveness. The letter reads as follows:

Michael Hiltzik’s diatribe about the Medicare drug benefit [”Medicare Drug Plan Looks Like a Big Scam,” 1.19.06] is a cynical attempt to scare seniors away from a program that helps them.
Read the rest of this entry »