While they may be advocating a similar target rate for curbing federal spending on Medicare, a closer look at Obama, Ryan, and how Medicare beneficiaries will be affected by their plans reveals some concrete differences. In the article below, posted on gantdaily.com, find out how you might be affected should one or the other plan be pushed through.
It may come as a surprise that President Barack Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, are pushing the same target rate for curbing annual federal spending on Medicare. Each would set it at half a percentage point higher than the growth rate of the economy – the gross domestic product.
Looking at their plans in more detail, however, the practical effects are likely to be very different when it comes to restraining federal spending and impact on seniors.
“There is a consensus, an agreement that Medicare is unsustainable,” said Ryan spokesman Conor Sweeney. “That’s where the agreement is, and it’s where the agreement ends.”
Here are some questions and answers about the Democratic and Republican approaches to moderating spending on the popular program, which covers 47 million seniors and disabled people.
Q. If both Obama and Ryan are proposing a target growth rate of GDP plus half a percentage point for Medicare, shouldn’t federal spending be the same under both scenarios?
There are important differences. Ryan’s plan is a hard cap on federal spending. He would automatically lower Medicare spending so that it is below the trigger level.
Obama is proposing a target that might not bring federal spending down to that level. His proposal follows an effort in the 2010 health law to curb Medicare cost growth by tying the spending target to the Consumer Price Index in early years, and later on to the rate of GDP growth plus 1 percentage point. Now Obama is proposing to lower the target to the rate of GDP plus half a percentage point. If federal spending per Medicare beneficiary is rising faster than that – a determination made by the Medicare actuary – then cuts are triggered.
The cuts would come as a percent reduction in Medicare spending. Such cuts wouldn’t necessarily be sufficient to meet the target, however.
By taking a closer look at Obama, Ryan, and how Medicare beneficiaries will be affected by their plans, you arm yourself with information necessary to help you make choices about who and what you support.
Typically, the country is split right down the middle in political affairs. People tend to lean toward one party or the other when it comes to their voter support. However, if you are paying close attention to ad campaigns, you will soon see that within the parties themselves, it is not so black and white when it comes to Medicare spending. Take a look at the article by JONATHAN WEISMAN posted on thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com about how recent political ads show party is split on Medicare Spending and keep this in mind when you support someone based on party alone.
Recent Political Ads Show Party is Split on Medicare Spending
Among the Republican fiscal hawks, the 2012 election is supposed to be a stark choice between a Republican Party willing to make the tough spending decisions necessary to get the deficit under control and a profligate Democratic Party still relying on “Mediscare” tactics to avoid responsibility.
Republican campaigns do not appear to be ready to embrace this message.
Jesse Kelly, the Republican running in a special election for the House seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords, just released an advertisement blasting his Democratic opponent, Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide, for supporting the 2010 health care law, which cut more than a half-trillion from Medicare.
“Don’t let Ron Barber cut my benefits, Jesse. I’ve earned them,” an elderly man tells the candidate plaintively.
“Don’t worry, Grandpa, I won’t,” he responds.
The ad is a response to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad accusing Mr. Kelly of favoring the slow elimination of Social Security and Medicare, while favoring tax cuts for the rich.
The committee’s ad neatly backs the election choice set up by deficit hawks like Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and the author of two successive House-passed budgets, which would convert Medicare from a government-run insurance program to a menu of competing private and public options subsidized by the government.
If you were not aware that recent political ads show party is split on Medicare Spending, then you may want to dig a little bit deeper into the individual voting records of the other individuals, who may be of the same party, but who are not of the same mindset. As a voter, it is up to you to stand up for yourself when it comes to your healthcare.
Like the name says, a Medicare Special Needs Plans is a unique type of Advantage Plan (Part C) designed to provide specialized care for patients suffering from specifically listed terminal or chronic illness, including chronic alcohol and drug dependence. Although it is possible that other illnesses will be considered under a particular plan, these special needs conditions typically include autoimmune disorders, cancer (does not include pre-cancer conditions, chronic heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, dementia, diabetes mellitus, end-stage liver and renal disease, severe hematologic disorders, HIV/AIDS, chronic lung disorders, chronic disabling mental conditions, neurological disorders, and stroke. Because all of the services are provided under the umbrella of one plan, coordination of all of your health care needs is much more simplified.
Medicare SNPs are required to use Medicare coverage rules to decide which services are considered medically necessary. The plans must cover all medically necessary and preventive services covered under Medicare Part A and Part B and prescription drug coverage under Part D. They may also cover extra services that are specific to the special groups they serve. It is important that you find out exactly what is covered before you join a plan.
The plans are designed to help manage and coordinate all services for patients falling into one or more of the categories listed above. This includes prescription drug coverage, medical health care, and hospital care. For example, a patient with a chronic lung disorder would have access to a network of providers whose concentration is treating only lung disorders. Just like any other Medicare health plan, you will have to choose providers and hospitals that belong to the plan and get referrals to see other specialists. If you are out of a service area and have an emergency, those costs are covered.
Like Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare SNPs are run by private companies. The costs of the plan will depend on the type of health care services you need, how often you receive them, and what your plan charges for any benefits that are considered extra. Typically, you pay your Medicare Part B premium; any additional monthly premium the Medicare SNP charges (above the Medicare Part B premium for Part A and Part B services); any additional monthly premium the Medicare SNP charges for prescription drug benefits; any plan deductible, coinsurance, or copayment the Medicare SNP charges (typically falling in the range of $10-$20 per doctor visit); and any additional charges associated with extra benefits. In order to find out more information about these extra costs, you will need to contact the Medicare SNP.
If you are on a limited income, you can apply for Extra Help to assist you in paying for prescription drugs. If you qualify, you may be able to get your prescriptions filled at little to no cost to you. To apply for this coverage, you can contact the Social Security Office at 800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778); visit your local Social Security Office; or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/i1020.
If you are interested in joining a Medicare SNP, please visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan or call1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.