Congress Approves Freeze on Reduced Medicare Doctor Payments

Time is frozen.

Congress voted to approve a one-year freeze on Medicare physician payments to avoid a sharp rate reduction that was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2011. Before the vote, President Obama had called the freeze “an important step forward to stabilize Medicare.” He is expected to sign the legislation. The new one-year freeze follows a series of short-term fixes that have blocked the threatened cuts repeatedly over the past eight years. The threatened pay cuts had raised the possibility that more doctors would turn away Medicare patients. Doctors had been facing a 25 percent cut in reimbursement rates for treating Medicare patients. The new “doc fix,” which is estimated to cost $19 … [Read more...]

New Healthcare Bill and Seniors

New Healthcare Bill and Seniors

Many senior citizens worry about the effect that the health care reform bill may have on them. After all, they generally use the health care system more than do younger people. And those living on fixed incomes may have little leeway in their budgets to help if their health costs rise. Would the healthcare reform legislation that President Obama plans to sign into law on Tuesday affect seniors in any direct way? The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is that some seniors may lose Medicare benefits they now enjoy. Many others will gain from an enhancement of Medicare’s prescription-drug program. Here are some specifics on these changes: Medicare cuts Under the healthcare reform … [Read more...]

Healthcare Reform and Medicare Changes

Healthcare Reform and Medicare Changes

The sweeping healthcare overhaul the U.S. House of Representatives approved on Sunday includes about $455 billion in spending cuts for Medicare and other federal health programs over the next 10 years. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers about how the reform will affect Medicare healthcare recipients. WILL THE LEGISLATION CUT MEDICARE BENEFITS? There are no cuts to the traditional Medicare benefit. The lion's share of spending cuts are in Medicare Advantage -- a program that uses private firms such as Humana and UnitedHealth Group to deliver Medicare benefits. Many of these providers offer extra coverage and some of those extras could be dropped as Medicare … [Read more...]