Donkeys and Elephants on Medicare

Editors Note: This post was written by Diva  Social Security and Medicare Expert, Ted Sarenski. 

In the interest of fair reporting, which we seldom seem to get these days, the following chart illustrates the positions of the two major political parties on the subject of Medicare.  You may draw your own conclusions or opinions, I just wanted you to have an unbiased account of where the two political parties stand on the issue that will affect every single person when they become age 65.  Social Security is another major government obligation that is having funding difficulties but has not been addressed in detail by either political party.  When the Social Security program is nearer collapse, our government, that is both sides, will do something about it.  (Oops, there goes my fair reporting.  I am blaming politicians as a whole though!)

Democratic Position

Keep Medicare program with modifications

Medicare Part – D:

    • Phase down coverage gap from 100% to 25% by 2020
    •  Require Pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide a 50% discount on prescriptions filled in the coverage gap
    • Add federal subsidies of 25% of brand-name drug costs by 2020
    • Add federal subsidies of 75% of generic drug costs by 2020

Establish an independent Payment Advisory Board comprised of 15 members to submit legislative proposals containing recommendations to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending if spending exceeds a target growth rate. The board is prohibited from submitting pro-posals that would ration care, increase reve-nues or change benefits, eligibility or Medicare beneficiary cost sharing.

Restructure payments to Medicare Advantage plans by setting payments to different percentages of Medicare fee-for-service rates.

Reduce Medicare payments that would other-wise be made to hospitals by specified percentages to account for excess hospital readmissions.

Reduce annual market basket updates for inpatient hospital, home health, skilled nursing facility, hospice and other Medicare providers and adjust for productivity.

Freeze the threshold for income-related Medi-care Part B premiums for 2011 to 2019.

Republican Position

Keep Medicare program for those age 55 and over.

For those younger than 55, Medicare changed to a premium support system. Existing spending is repackaged as a fixed-amount benefit to each senior that he or she can use to purchase an insurance plan.

All Medicare insurance plans must offer coverage at least comparable to what Medicare provides today.

If seniors choose more expensive plans, they will have to pay the difference between the support amount and the premium price. If seniors choose less expensive plans, they can use any leftover support to pay other medical expenses like co-pays or deductibles.

Traditional Medicare will be offered by the government as an insurance plan meaning that seniors can purchase that form of coverage. However if the cost of the plan through the government is higher than the costs of private insurance versions, then seniors will have to pay the difference to enroll in the traditional Medicare plan.

Lower income seniors will receive more generous support to ensure they can afford coverage and wealthier seniors will receive less support.

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