Medicare Open Enrollment Opens This Week, October 15 - December 7; AARP has assistance online
Oct. 12, 2015 - It’s that time of year again: Medicare Open Enrollment. AARP has issued a news release encouraging all Medicare beneficiaries to review their health and prescription drug plan choices for 2016 during open enrollment (October 15– December 7). With the explosive rise in prescription drug prices, consumers should pay particular attention
to their drug coverage options to help save money. More..
AP says lower gasoline prices have doomed Social Security COLA; many seniors face higher Medicare fees
Oct. 11, 2015 – Social Security and Medicare are both hot topics in the news with the looming announcement there will be no cost-of-living increase for seniors next year, but many will be paying higher fees for some Medicare
services. Grabbing the headlines, however, a GOP presidential candidate said those near retirement should just “get over” cuts he proposed in Social Security benefits. More...
Part B will increase to $159 monthly for select beneficiaries in 2016; Part B deductible jumps to $223 for all on Medicare
Oct. 9, 2015 - Seventynational organizations representing people with Medicare, health insurers, workers, federal
employees, and more sent a letter last week to key Congressional committees urging swift action to shield senior citizens, people with disabilities, and state Medicaid programs from anticipated increases in Medicare Part B premiums and the Part B deductible in 2016.
Affordable Care Act model designed to improve care for patients with kidney failure while reducing costs
Oct. 9, 2015 - More than 600,000 Americans have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure, and require life sustaining dialysis treatments several times per week. Medicare has a new plan. In 2012, ESRD beneficiaries comprised 1.1% of the Medicare population but accounted for an estimated 5.6% of total Medicare spending.
Data serves as comprehensive resource for information on durable medical equipment costs and services
Oct. 9, 2015 - As part of efforts to make the healthcare system more transparent, affordable, and accountable, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted a new data set for the Provider Utilization and Payment files. It provides information on physicians and other healthcare professionals who referred DMEPOS products and services, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and diabetes supplies for Medicare
Means problems for Medicare: Part B premiums cannot increase for most , so minority has to bear burden of rising costs
Oct. 8, 2015 - It’s not official, but the experts seem to be in agreement that senior citizens will not get a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) from Social Security for 2016. It will be just the third time in 40 years, according to an analysis by
Alicia H. Munnell and Anqi Chen of the
Boston College Center for Retirement Research.
Oct. 7, 2015 - The nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager said Tuesday it’s not going to try to bring down costs by forcing the makers of two pricey new cholesterol drugs to compete against each other, as it successfully did this year with expensive hepatitis C treatments.
It pays to shop around for women’s
health care: routine services often cost far more in one office than another
Oct. 7, 2015 - Thinking about getting a mammogram in the Dallas-Fort Worth area? You might check carefully because the cost can vary from $50 to as much as $1,045. How about an initial routine gynecological exam? Around Phoenix, those prices can range from $72 to $388.
It is Part D Enhanced Medication Therapy Management (Enhanced MTM)
Oct. 6, 2015 - An effort to improve medication therapy among Medicare beneficiaries enrolled
in the Part D prescription drug program has been announced by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The hope is better health care and better patient outcomes at a lower overall health care cost.
Email, phone not included as in-person contact for study
Oct. 6, 2015 – The probability of experiencing depressive symptoms steadily increased as the frequency of in-person contact decreased for adults age 50 and over and participating in a recent study. Phone and written (letter or email) contact was not considered as in-person.
Financial prospects not clear as program shifts from caring for rural America to baby boomers wanting to age at home
Oct. 6, 2015 - Say you’re a rural Midwestern farmer in bed recovering from a major illness at your local hospital. It’s time for nurse’s check in, but there’s no knock on
the door. At Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, just over the foot of the bed, a camera whirls around and a monitor lights up to show a smiling face with a headset on.
Gov. Jerry Brown says it is what he would want; terminally ill can buy lethal medication
Oct. 5, 2015 - California Gov. Jerry Brown says it all came down to what he would want in the face of his own death, when he signed landmark legislation today
to allow terminally ill patients to obtain lethal medication to end their lives.
Elderly should consider the 4 times stronger “high dose” vaccine
Oct. 5, 2015 – You can assume that a lot of senior citizens are going to die from the flu during this 2015-16 flu season that just opened. History tells us up to 90% of those who die from flu this season will be seniors age 65 or older and well over half who are hospitalized with be in this age group,
too. Flu is a very serious threat for the elderly and they should consider the extra protection of the “high dose” flu shot.
New guide based on comprehensive review of recent studies may help you navigate mild cognitive impairment – links to the latest research below report
Oct. 1, 2015 - For up to one in five American senior citizens – those age 65 and older - aging brings memory and thinking problems - along with the embarrassment of not being as "sharp" as we once were, and the frantic worry that it will get much worse.
AARP, financial planners release survey results on knowledge gap
Oct. 1, 2015 - Everyone agrees Social Security is very important but two new AARP surveys show that few really have any idea how it
works. Financial planners say about 1 percent of their clients understand it and a survey of older Americans who have not reached age 65 found only 9 percent believe they are very knowledgeable.
New Pew Research survey finds strong 60% public support for Planned Parenthood; blame Republicans for conflict
Sept. 8, 2015 - For senior citizens it should not be a surprise that Americans age 65 and older are the least likely to support maintaining federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Surprisingly, however, the percentage of seniors in favor is substantially larger than the number who want to eliminate the funding, according to the Pew Research Center.
CMS awards $110 million to hospital associations and health systems
Sept. 25, 2015 – There are probably few senior citizens who do not know at least one person who has suffered and, maybe, died from a hospital-acquired infection or other dangerous condition. The CDC estimates two million a year in the U.S.
are hit with hospital-acquired infections and 20,000 die. Tomorrow there will be an additional $110 million from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) fighting to end this nightmare.
CMS now calling this annual period for changing plans the ‘Annual Election Period’
Sept. 22, 2015 - The Annual Election Period for Medicare health and drug plans – which up until now has been called the “Open Enrollment Period” - begins on October 15 and ends December 7, 2015. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
released good news for senior citizens yesterday, with most of the focus on the success of the Medicare Advantage.
Antiviral medications also reduces their risk of needing extended care
Sept. 18, 2015 - Early treatment of flu-hospitalized people 65 and older with flu antiviral medications cuts the duration of their hospital stay and reduces their risk of needing extended care after discharge, a new CDC study finds. The study is the first to look at the benefits of early antiviral treatment on preventing the need for extended care in community-dwelling flu-hospitalized people 65 and older.
Shingles is one being skipped the most; are you up-to-date?
Sept. 15, 2015 - Three out of four Americans older than 60 don’t get a shingles vaccine to protect themselves from the virus’ miseries: rashes over the face and body, stinging pain that can last for weeks or months and the threat of blindness.
Vaccine recommendations for senior citizens by U.S. government
Sept. 15, 2015 - The U.S. government has an on-going campaign encouraging senior citizens to get a set of vaccinations recommended by the National Vaccine
Program office. Following are the vaccines you need and how to learn more about them.
Participants average of 76 years old, showed no signs of memory or cognitive impairments as study began
Sept. 10, 2015 – Virtually all senior citizens who develop dementia will at some time forget they have a memory problem. In most cases, says a new study, they begin
to lose awareness of their memory problems two to three years before the actual onset of the disease.
equity for minorities and other underserved populations
Sept. 9, 2015 - A new Medicare plan aimed at achieving equity for minority and other underserved populations and eliminating health disparities among Medicare beneficiaries was introduced yesterday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH).
Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model targets better cafe at less cost
Sept. 2, 2015 – Medicare will test the hypothesis that giving Medicare Advantage plans flexibility to offer targeted extra supplemental benefits or reduced cost sharing to enrollees who have specified chronic conditions can lead to
higher-quality and more cost-efficient care, helping health plans and consumers have the tools they need to improve costs and spend dollars more wisely.
Funding would allow testing of new payment model for seniors in nursing facility care
Sept. 2, 2015 - A new funding opportunity designed to enhance the Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents has been announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Medicare beneficiaries served by ACOs continues to increase; report on 2014
Sept. 2, 2015 - Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) continue to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries, while generating financial savings, says the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The evidence is from the 2014 quality and financial performance results.
Scientists have identified part of hippocampus that creates, processes this type of memory
Aug. 20, 2015 - You see a person at the store. They look familiar. Is this an old classmate or do they just look alike? Or is your aging brain just confusing you. One tiny spot in the hippocampus of the brain has the answer, scientists have discovered.
screening policies could detect more abdominal aortic aneurysms; older male smokers at high risk, maybe women
Aug. 20, 2015 – Once again, researchers find older people are dying because of medical policies established years ago, when we did not live so long. The deadly problem this time is the national screening policy for aortic aneurysm.
Rates threatened by high cost of specialty drugs; growth in per-enrollee spending continues to be historically low
Aug. 19, 2015 - The monthly premium for a basic Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2016 is estimated to be $32.50, when Open Enrollment begins October 15. For the past five years – plan years 2011-2015 – the average monthly premium for a basic plan has been between $30 and $32.
Research has begun with female track star at age of 93 with 750 gold medals (link to video in story)
Aug. 18, 2015 – It is just the beginning, but researchers studying the brain of a 93-year-old female super athlete to learn more about the link between older athletes and cognition have found her quicker on cognitive tasks than others her age, but not performing as well as younger women. Her memory was much superior to her peers.
First research to seek answer confirms some smart people live longer but it’s mostly genetic
Aug. 3, 2015 – We probably know a lot of people who are going to die a lot early than they think, if new research is accurate. There is a recognized tendency for more intelligent people to live longer, but it may not be because they are smarter.
National Alzheimer's Project Act has it wrong; caregivers, patients want help with improving care
Aug. 3, 2015 – There has been a lot of cheering across the U.S. about the large amounts of money being spent on research seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia patients and their caregivers, however, would like to see more of this money spent improving long-term care.
July 30, 2015 - The Medicaid program plays an important role in providing access to treatment for individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD). Nearly 21 million Americans suffer from SUD, many of whom are low-income or uninsured.
Medicare & Medicaid News
Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare & Medicaid
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid bill on July 30, 1965. President Harry Truman became first member. (Photo Truman Library)
Rate of death: doubles with 1, up 4 times with 2, 8 times with all 3
July 29, 2015 - This is a trifecta you don’t want in any order – diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Your risk of death increases substantially with each additional condition. For example, a 60-year old senior with two of these has a reduced life expectancy of 12 years, says the new research.
Devastating news for seniors not official but all agree it is coming
July 27, 2015 – If you were counting on a few extra bucks in your Social Security check in 2016, you made a mistake. The opinion of the experts, including the trustees, is senior citizens will not see a cost-of-living (COLA) in 2016.
Almost two-thirds of American senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease are women
July 21, 2015 – As women enter the ranks of senior citizens at age 65, their chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease are much greater than that for men. And, those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have two times faster decline in cognition
than men with MCI, according to new research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2015. More...
July 20, 2015 – The Senior Citizen League (TSCL), often a careful critic of things that impact America’s senior citizens, has issued their review of the White House Conference on Aging, that happens every 10 years. Following is the TSCL’s
report on the meeting that finds some things to like. More...
Ignites urgent need for treatments to delay or prevent AD
July 20, 2015 - If there are no significant advances in Alzheimer's treatment or prevention, as the baby boomers with Alzheimer's age, there will be a shift toward more severe forms of the disease, leading to greater Medicare costs, says new analysis.
hope to identify those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI)
July 15, 2015 - Individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) are at twice the risk of others in their age group of progressing to Alzheimer's disease and researchers think they are on the trail of an affordable, easy way to do this. More...
Study with mice and humans indicates severe fasting may not be only answer
June 14, 2015 – Success in extending the lifespan of mice with a calorie-restricted diet for only eight days a month led scientist to try it with a small group of people… and it appears to have worked. More...
Are many seniors too quick to blame memory loss on
By Tucker Sutherland, editor
July 13, 2015 - Significant problems among senior citizens are memory loss and inability to sleep. A new study has found a clear link between the two. Many seniors may be too quick to blame their memory problems – particularly when stressed - on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. More...
Advice for older people on staying safe in hot weather; risk of heat-related health problems increases with age
July 9, 2015 - Summer weather can pose special health risks to older adults and people with chronic medical conditions. It is critically important that the elderly, especially those most susceptible to hyperthermia and other heat-related illnesses, know how to safeguard against these threats. More...
Some soon-to-be senior citizens may want to keep their marketplace subsidy
July 1, 2015 - Before the Affordable Care Act, older adults who couldn’t afford to buy their own health insurance would count the days until their 65th birthday, when Medicare would kick in. Now, 10,000
Americans hit that milestone every day, but for some who have coverage through the ACA’s insurance marketplaces, Medicare may not be the obvious next step. More...
New study monitored discussions on websites in U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Australia
June 30, 2015 - A newly published study indicates senior citizens and other older adults are keeping the web hot with discussions about the joys of sex and the sharing of advice about how to keep their mojos working. More...
Key Senate and House committee pass 60% increase to $350 million to fight AD
June 29, 2015 - The TV box was over flowing with news last week and generally pushed out of the headlines a very big story for senior citizens – record shattering funding for Alzheimer’s disease research was sailing through Congressional committees.
Pew Research has followed issue for years and has insights into change
June 29, 2015 - You will probably be surprised to learn that senior citizens – called the Silents by researchers at Pew Research Center – led the nation in the wide-spread swing over the last 10 years to acceptance of same-sex marriage, which was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court last
Independence at Home practices introduced with Affordable Care Act improving care, lowering costs for thousands of seniors
June 22, 2015 - For years, older Americans have expressed a strong desire to stay in their homes as they age, even if they need personal care. A major step in that direction was just announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More...
Adding protein vinculin helps fruit flies extend lives 150%
June 19, 2015 – Millions of senior citizens threatened by heart failure, a disease of aging marked by a weak pumping heart, could possibly see their lives significantly extended by the
protein vinculin. At least there is the hint of this possibility in new research published this week. More...
Rabbi guest writer for Grand Rapids Press asks fellow religious leaders their opinions
June 18, 2015 - An 82-year-old widow asked in a letter to Rabbi David Krishef, “How far can we go?” She is referring to the relationship with her new found love, an 81 year old widower. The two had long marriages and do not wish to marry now. So, Rabbi Krishef put the question to other religious leaders, too. More...
They also say drug costs are ‘Unreasonable,’ although they can still afford them
June 17, 2015 - Americans expressed a strong preference for the government to begin negotiating with drug companies on behalf of Medicare patients for lower prices on medications, which most consider too high, according to a new poll from the
Kaiser Family Foundation. More...
June 17, 2015 - The decision last week by experts at the Food and Drug Administration to endorse a pair of medicines aimed at combating heart disease brought on the latest round
of hand-wringing over prescription drug costs. More...
Daily posts by CMS until party starts closer to July 30 date when bill signed by President Johnson
June 16, 2015 – This
summer will be the 50thanniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. On July 30, 1965, President Johnson signed legislation to establish Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for low-income adults, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. More...
They make it easier for older people to get online, breaking down barriers that kept them from getting connected
June 9, 2015 - Too often, senior citizens are introduced to the digital world through a computer or tiny hand-held phone. And, too often, they find the challenge too much for their resolve. There is an easier way, according to new research, and it’s called a tablet.
Biggest problems are for-profit hospitals located in Florida
By Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health Nets
June 9, 2015 - Talk about sticker shock: Some U.S. hospitals charge patients more than 10 times the rates paid by Medicare. Of the
50 U.S. hospitals with the highest charges, 49 are for-profit institutions, 20 operate in Florida, and half are owned by a single chain, according to
a study published in the journal Health Affairs Monday.
Statins have proven very effective at lowering high cholesterol and you should stick with them
June 8, 2015 – Previous studies – mostly limited research – have indicated memory lapses resulting after taking statins. Whoa, that may not be the case, says new research involving about a million patients. These researchers suggest you stick with your statins.
This is not first study to find smell as factor in longevity.
June 3, 2015 – A new study supports earlier findings that when older people have trouble
distinguishing between odors they appear to have a shorter life span. The latest study of people on Medicare found a high death rate for those with the worse smell test scores, which was the same finding of a study released last October. More...
SSA announces to service to further encourage members to sign-up for site to do business with the agency
June 1, 2015 - The Social Security Administration today introduced the expansion of online services available through its my Social Security portal – seniors and others with a Social Security membership who have also established a
my Social Security account can now obtain a replacement card online. More...
Use caution when considering anticoagulants, say Mayo Clinic researchers
June 1, 2015 - If you are over age 75, and taking an anticoagulant, the old standard may be the gold standard, Mayo Clinic researchers in Phoenix and collaborators have determined.For older patients, particularly individuals greater than 75 years of age, the risk of gastrointestinal (GI)
bleeding is 3 to 5 times higher when taking newer anticoagulant medications dabigatran or rivaroxaban compared to when using warfarin. More..