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Medicare
Retiree Health Benefits At the Crossroads

This issue brief reviews recent trends and developments in employer-sponsored retiree health coverage and examines the impact of recent legislation, such as the Medicare drug benefit and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on retiree health coverage. The report describes leading strategies employers have been pursuing or considering to limit costs for retiree health benefits. In addition, the report considers the potential implications of proposals aimed at reducing federal spending for retiree health coverage and costs.

Paying a Visit to the Doctor: Current Financial Protections for Medicare Patients When Receiving Physician Services

This issue brief explains provisions in current law that shield beneficiaries from unexpected and confusing charges when they see physicians and practitioners—namely, the participating provider program, limitation on balance billing, and conditions on private contracting for doctors who opt out of Medicare or join “concierge” practices. It also analyzes the implications of modifying these provisions for beneficiaries, providers, and the Medicare program.

State Demonstration Proposals to Integrate Care and Align Financing and/or Administration for Dual Eligible Beneficiaries

This map shows the current status of the state demonstration proposals to integrate care and align financing for beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Over 9.6 million seniors and younger people with significant disabilities are dually eligible for both programs, and as many as 2 million of them may be included in the demonstrations.

Summary of Medicare Provisions in the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

On March 4, 2014, the Office of Management and Budget released President Obama’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2015, which includes provisions related to federal spending and revenues, including Medicare savings. The President’s budget would use federal savings and revenues to reduce the federal debt and replace sequestration of Medicare and other federal programs for 2015 through 2024. This brief summarizes the Medicare provisions included in the President’s budget proposal for FY 2015.

Testimony: Income Security and the Elderly: Securing Gains Made in the War on Poverty

Senior Vice President Patricia Neuman testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging as part of its hearing entitled Income Security and the Elderly: Securing Gains Made in the War on Poverty. As part of her testimony, she presented segments from a Foundation-produced video that highlights what it means to be old and poor in our country.

Old and Poor: America’s Forgotten

While the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure shows 9 percent of seniors nationally live in poverty, the share climbs to about one in seven seniors (15 percent) under the Bureau’s alternative Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account out-of-pocket health expenses and geographic differences in the cost of living. Produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Old and Poor: America’s Forgotten provides a portrait of seniors who are living in poverty, in both urban and rural areas across the United States.

Adding an Out-of-Pocket Spending Maximum to Medicare: Implementation Issues and Challenges

In an effort to simplify Medicare’s cost-sharing requirements, provide beneficiaries with catastrophic protection, and achieve program savings, some have proposed to restructure Medicare’s benefit design. Several recent proposals would create a unified deductible for Medicare Parts A and B, simplify cost-sharing requirements above the deductible, and add an annual limit on beneficiary out-of-pocket spending—a benefit feature typical of larger employer plans, but lacking in traditional Medicare. This issue brief describes the options for adding an out-of-pocket spending limit to Medicare and examines the operational issues that could arise in implementing both a uniform and an income-based out-of-pocket spending limit. Because the implementation of an income-related out-of-pocket maximum would pose somewhat greater complexity for Medicare, the operational issues associated with this approach are discussed in greater detail.

Medigap Reform: Setting the Context for Understanding Recent Proposals

This brief presents the most current data available on the Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) market, including enrollment and premiums by state and plan type, analyzes how many beneficiaries have first dollar coverage (particularly Plans C and F), and describes recent Medigap proposals that have emerged as part of efforts to reduce Medicare spending and the national debt.