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Senior Citizen Politics 2007-2006

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Kohl, Harkin Senate Bill to Force Disclosure of 401K Management Fees

Senators say high fees can take thousands from retirement savings

Dec. 27, 2007 -  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced legislation this month to protect American workers by ensuring they can access information on the cost of 401 (k) plan management fees. The Harkin/Kohl Defined Contribution Fee Disclosure Act of 2007 would require 401(k) plan providers to disclose all fees so that workers saving for retirement can make a fully informed decision about which plan is best for them, according to Sen. Kohl’s office. Read more...

Medicare Reform Bill Passed in Senate Stops Physician Pay Cut Short-Term

Bill has a number of provisions impacting Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP

Dec. 19, 2007 – Late yesterday the Senate passed on a voice vote the Medicare reform legislation from the Finance Committee. The summary of Medicare provisions in the legislation being considered today in the House was released just yesterday by the Senate Finance Committee. The lead provision, which has garnered most of the public attention, addresses the 10 percent paycut for physicians that Medicare has approved for January. This bill offers a temporary solution - a 0.5% increase but just through June 30, 2008. Read more...

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Current Political News for Senior Citizens

Republicans Say Medicare Bill Must Have Unanimous Consent to Clear Senate

Time running out on Democratic efforts to stop pay cut for Medicare physicians

Dec. 17, 2007 – The attempt by Senate Democrats to stop the Bush Administration from cutting the Medicare pay of doctors by 10 percent on January 1 has hit a new roadblock laid down by Republicans. The GOP now says the only way to avoid their filibuster is to pass a bill with unanimous consent. This means, for one thing, that other Medicare reforms will have to be dropped. Read more...

Medicare Legislation in Senate Facing GOP Filibuster on Private Firms’ Issues

Sen. Baucus says package will not include cuts to Medicare Advantage


Daily Reports


Dec. 14, 2007 - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said that the chamber would wait for the Senate to craft Medicare legislation rather than write its own bill because of continued disagreement among lawmakers on what to include, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily, 12/13). The bill is being written to stop a scheduled 10% reduction in Medicare physician fees scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2008. Read more...

Reverse Mortgage News for Seniors

Reverse Mortgage Law Has Unhappy Birthday at Senate Aging Hearing

Aging Committee hears horror story, Sen. McCaskill to offer legislation to assure senior citizens are protected

Dec. 13, 2007 – Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of the law establishing the reverse mortgage program, which allows Americans age 62 or older to transfer their home equity into a monthly income. The birthday celebration at the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, however, was not a happy one. One witness told how her mother suffered financial losses and mental stress from taking out a reverse mortgage. Read more...

Efforts Failing to Stop Medicare from Cutting Physicians Pay, Other Reforms

House unable to agree on adding Medicare package to alternative minimum tax bill


Daily Reports


Dec. 12, 2007 - Legislation that would prevent middle-class U.S. residents from paying the alternative minimum tax heads to the House floor on Wednesday, but it does not contain Medicare provisions that would delay a scheduled 10% physician fee cut, CongressDaily reports. Read more...

Reverse Mortgages to Get Critical Look from Senate Committee on Aging

Sen. McCaskill leads investigation of ‘pressing need to strengthen consumer protections for seniors as they consider this type of loan’

Dec. 10, 2007 – The reverse mortgage program, which has boomed in recent years as a way for senior citizens to draw from the equity in their homes but continue to live in them, is in for some unusual scrutiny on Wednesday. A news release from the Senate’ Special Committee on Aging says Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) will hold a hearing to highlight the “pressing need to strengthen consumer protections for seniors as they consider this type of loan.” Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

What Happens Every December? The Battle to Stop Medicare from Cutting Physician Pay

Usually the proposed cuts are just pushed ahead but this year looks different - although Washington stockings are getting filled

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Dec. 7, 2007 – Just like Thanksgiving comes every November, the battle over Medicare cutting the pay of doctors comes every December. Once again, Medicare has announced a big pay cut, the physicians and their lobby are pouring money into the political stockings held by the Washington politicians, and, alas, once again the pay cut will be avoided. This year, however, the stakes appear a little larger, battle lines are more skewed and it is harder to predict how the politicians will make it happen. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Medicare Reform Hits Snag as Administration Threatens Veto if Physician Pay Cut is Reduced

Medicare reform hits snag; Health groups want Medicare physicians to use electronic prescribing or face financial penalties

Dec. 6, 2007 – The Medicare reform package be shaped in the Senate Finance Committee hit a snag yesterday and the Democratic chairman says he needs to consult with House Democrats before proceeding on the legislation. A major piece of the plan is to roll back the 10 percent pay cuts for doctors that Medicare is set to enforce for 2008. Republicans on the committee were fighting for a short-term roll back of the cut when a letter suddenly appeared from the Health and Human Services Secretary that threatened a Bush veto under certain conditions. Read more...

Sen. Smith Leads Aging Committee Hearing on Welfare of Elderly Refugees

Over 7,000 elderly and disabled refugees have lost SSI benefits, 16,000 may lose them soon

Dec. 5, 2007 – A meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Aging today explored gaps in access to supportive services, looking specifically at the time refugees, those granted asylum and other humanitarian non-citizens legally residing in the U.S. are able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Read more...

Senior Advocates Petition Congress to Cut Subsidy to Private Medicare Plans

Medicare reforms being shaped in Senate Finance Committee

Dec. 5, 2007 – Two Medicare advocacy groups poured 48,000 petitions on Congress yesterday as part of their campaign to support Medicare reforms that will halt or reduce the subsidies paid to private Medicare providers. The senior citizens also waived two-dollar bills to symbolize the “extra money” they pay each month in Medicare premiums because of these industry subsidies. Read more...

Drug Company Wants to Force $2,000 Cancer Drug to Replace $40 Avastin

Sen. Kohl demands info on Genentech move that could cost Medicare $3 billion annually for treating of macular degeneration


Battle is over treatment for macular degeneration


Nov. 29, 2007 – Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) stepped to the front of the line late yesterday to intervene in a proposed limit by Genentech in the availability of its cancer drug Avastin to certain pharmaceutical compounding firms and pharmacies. Some physicians have charged that Genentech’s intention in limiting Avastin’s availability is to boost sales of Lucentis, a chemically-similar, yet far more expensive drug also produced by Genentech and approved to treat macular degeneration. Read more... 

Aging Committee Highlights Need for More Open Info About Nursing Homes

Finance committee ranking member Grassley, top CMS official Kerry Weems to testify

Nov. 15, 2007 - Today, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) will hold a hearing to highlight the need for increased transparency and accountability with respect to information that is publicly available about nursing homes.  Key testimony is expected from Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) on the need to strengthen the federal government’s system of nursing home regulation, outlining the main objectives of the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act of 2007. Read more...

Social Security News

A Simple Fix for Social Security Problems Proposed by Think Tank Scholar

Most know benefits increase with inflation but not that first year pay is determined by wages, which suggests the solution

Nov. 9, 2007 – Everyone thinks Social Security benefits are increasing by 2.3 percent next year – the recent rate of inflation – but that is only partially true. It’s true for senior citizens already in the program but the new class joining Social Security 2008 will be getting 4.6 percent more than the incoming class of 2007. That’s based on the percentage increase in the Average Wage Index. Here lies the “Simple Fix for Social Security,” according to Alan D. Viard, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Senators Kohl, Harkin Offer Legislation to Make 401k Fees More Transparent

Aging Committee hears that these fees threaten retirement security for seniors

Oct. 25, 2007 - Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will introduce legislation this week that will require complete transparency of 401(k) fees to both employers and participants. Kohl announced this action at a hearing of his committee on the “devastating effect” hidden 401(k) fees can have on the retirement savings of senior citizens and the need for simple and clear disclosure. Read more... 

Hidden 401-k Fees Threaten Retirement Security for Seniors Says Senate Aging Committee Chair

Sen. Kohl calls hearing today on devastating fees hidden in law

Oct. 24, 2007 - The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing today on the devastating effect hidden 401(k) fees can have on retirement savings and the need for simple and clear disclosure. Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) says he will offer legislative changes. Read more...

McCain’s Proposed Health Care Overhaul Could Impact Senior Citizens, Veterans

Wants vets able to go to any health care provider, no Medicare pay for medical errors, more retail health clinics

Oct. 12, 2007 - Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, plans to announce a health care proposal that would seek to expand coverage through tax incentives and give people "more control and more choices," the AP/Long Island Newsday reports (Sidoti, AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/11). Read more...

Senior Citizens Get About Half of Federal Budget in 2005: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

Per capita spending highest in Alaska, Virginia, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota

Oct. 9, 2007 - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, programs primarily serving senior citizens, accounted for more than $1 trillion of the $2.3 trillion the federal government spent in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which publishes the only consolidated source of data on the geographic distribution of federal expenditures. Read more...

Bill Funding Efforts to Prepare Senior Citizens for Digital TV Offered by Kohl

Sen. Kohl’s legislation aimed at filling gap left by government and industry planning for transition of nation’s television broadcast format

Oct. 3, 2007 – Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, today introduced a bill to provide funding for non-profits, states and local governments, as well as,  coordinate federal efforts, to prepare senior citizens for the nation’s switch to digital television in early 2009. Read more...

Democrats Talk Older Americans’ Issues at AARP Iowa Forum

Promote universal health care but with most arguing that costs could be largely offset by streamlining Medicare

Sept. 21, 2007 – The five Democratic candidates for president who showed up at the forum last night sponsored by AARP and Iowa Public Television said all the things you would expect them to say when addressing older Americans - protect the future of Social Security, improve the Medicare drug program, increase health care spending, push for improved retirement programs and provide universal health care. Read more...

Aging Committee Finds Need to Educate Senior Citizens on Change to Digital TV

Nation changes to digital TV on Feb. 17, 2009 and senior citizens may be in the dark

Sept. 19, 2007 – The Senate Special Committee on Aging today tried to shed more light on the nation’s transition to digital television (DTV), which many fear is a change that will disproportionately affect America’s senior citizens in a negative way, due to their lack of preparedness. Read more...

Medicare News

Changes to Medicare Pulled from SCHIP Bill by Negotiators

Democrats vow to make another run at changes to Medicare

Sept. 19, 2007 – Democrats, particularly in the House, made a bold attempt to make significant changes in Medicare as part of the bill to reauthorize and expand SCHIP, the federal program providing health insurance to lower income children. Those changes to Medicare were tossed by the Senate and House negotiators, but some Democrats say they will bring them up again. Read more...

Senior Citizens' Political Issues Not on Minds of Politicians or Voters

Top senior issue is Social Security picked by 4%, just 2% say Medicare

Sept. 19, 2007 – Political issues traditionally branded as “senior citizen issues” are not receiving much attention in the presidential campaigns, but, the public does not seem to be very interested in them either. A recent Harris Poll found only four percent of the Americans ranking Social Security as an important issue but that was far ahead of other senior issues. Read more...

Senior Citizens May Be Left in the Dark When Nation Switches to Digital TV

Senate Aging committee hearing on lack of awareness, confusion, senior preparedness

Sept. 17, 2007 – To the dismay of many senior citizens, the world just keeps on changing. A major change ahead is the switch to digital television, which many senior citizens may not understand or be aware is about to happen. Read more...

Medicare Changes in SCHIP Bill Hinder Congressional Compromise

Governors threaten to sue the administration over SCHIP restrictions

Sept. 13, 2007 – Negotiators for the House and Senate have reached an impasse in trying to reach agreement on the bill to reauthorize and expand SCHIP. A major hang-up, as pointed out by, is the inclusion of a number of substantial changes in the Medicare program. Read more...

Senior Citizen Issues Becoming an Issue for South Carolina Primary

Lt. Gov. Bauer lays out list of boomer, elderly issues he wants addressed

Sept. 12, 2007 – Issues of particular importance to senior citizens have received little attention, so far, from the presidential candidates. That may change soon, however, as André Bauer, Lt. Governor of South Carolina, which is a key primary state, has started a campaign to get the candidates to talk about how they will deal with senior issues and the “baby boomer tsunami.” Read more...

Senators Kohl, Grassley Demand Drug Companies Reveal Gifts to Doctors

McCaskill, Schumer, Klobuchar and Kennedy co-sponsor new bill

Sept. 10, 2007 -  U.S. Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate’s committee on aging, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are introducing legislation to require manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, devices and biologics to disclose the amount of money they give to doctors through payments, gifts, honoraria, travel and other means. Read more...

Larry Craig, Former Senate Aging Committee Chair, Busy Explaining Restroom Arrest

Idaho Republican has consistently denied allegations of gay activity

Aug. 28, 2007 – The former chairman of the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, Republican Larry Craig of Idaho, may have trouble holding on to his Senate seat, according to many in Washington, after it was revealed yesterday by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, that the three-term senator, "pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges stemming from his June arrest by an undercover police officer in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport." Read more...

Senior Citizens will Like New Site Monitoring Claims by Presidential Candidates

Site by CQ and St. Pete Times helps voters uncover the truth

Aug. 28, 2007 – Senior citizens, an age group well-known for their interest in politics and their desire for factual political information, will probably enjoy a new Website that features a “truth-o-meter” that scores the truthfulness of specific claims by the presidential candidates. Read more...

Presidential Campaign Passes Iraq in News but Old Men Lead in Dissatisfaction

People not upset with election candidates or issues, just early start

Aug. 20, 2007 - The 2008 Presidential campaign - with its crowded field and accelerated timetable - emerged as the leading story in the American news media in the second quarter of 2007, supplanting the policy debate over Iraq. But, the public – in particular older white men – have a negative view of the campaign, with just one-in-five with a favorable thing to say about it. Read more...

Lawmakers to Reintroduce Bill Legalizing Experimental Medications for Terminally Sick

Court rules terminally ill do not have right to unapproved prescription drugs, even if their physicians recommend


Daily Reports


Aug. 17, 2007 - Lawmakers likely will reintroduce legislation that would require FDA to allow terminally-ill patients to purchase experimental drugs with the recommendation of their physician, CongressDaily reports. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) last session introduced the Access, Compassion, Care and Ethics for Seriously Ill Patients Act, but the bill "did not gain traction," according to CongressDaily. Read more...

Allowing Those 55 to Buy-in to Medicare, Negotiated Drug Prices in Richardson Health Plan

Presidential candidate wants more emphasis on preventive health care, too, as Sen. Clinton takes a turn as hospital nurse

Aug. 8, 2007 – The Democratic presidential candidates have been taking turns to present their universal health care proposals and yesterday it was New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s turn. Some innovations in his plan that can impact senior citizens include letting those ages 55 to 64 pay to join Medicare, mandating negotiations on Medicare drug prices and more emphasis on preventive services. also notes today that Sen. Hillary Clinton will work a day next week as a hospital nurse. Read more...

Senate Approves SCHIP with Veto-Proof Majority to Join House Bill Passed Wednesday

House bill includes some important changes to Medicare

Aug. 3, 2007 – The Senate approved the bill expanding SCHIP by billions over five years by a veto-proof margin but the White House is still promising a veto. The House version of the bill, called the CHAMP Act, also includes a number of changes to Medicare, including decreased funding for Medicare Advantage Plans and pay increases for physicians. Both houses intend to fund the expansion with increased taxes on cigarettes, according to the report. Read more...

House Approved the CHAMP Act with Medicare Changes

Five Republicans voted with 220 Democrats


Daily Reports


Aug. 2, 2007 - The House on Wednesday voted 225-204 to approve legislation (HR 3162) that would reauthorize SCHIP and make changes to the Medicare program, Roll Call reports (Dennis, Roll Call, 8/2). Five Republicans voted with 220 Democrats to pass the measure, while 10 Democrats and 194 Republicans voted against it (Pear, New York Times, 8/2). Read more...

Senate Begins Debate on SCHIP, House Agrees on Revisions

House Dems agree to two-year limit stopping Medicare pay cuts to physicians

July 31, 2007 - The Senate on Monday voted 80-0 to begin debate on legislation (S 1893) that would reauthorize SCHIP and expand funding for the program by $35 billion over five years, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily, 7/31). SCHIP expires on Sept. 30. Read more...

Medicare Advantage Marketing Would Be Regulated by States in New Senate Bill

Aging Committee’s Kohl says he is delivering on promise to ‘Hold Feet to the Fire’

July 27, 2007 – Although the major Medicare Advantage Plans agreed to stop marketing until they had cleaned up their act, after a multitude of criticism of overly-aggressive marketing tactics, it is not enough everybody in Washington. Yesterday, a group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill to allow the association representing state insurance commissioners to draw up marketing and sales regulations for the MAs, which are approved and subsidized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Read more...

GOP Fails to Derail Democrat’s SCHIP Bill that Includes Medicare Changes

Republicans offer their bill, says cost could be paid by cuts in Medicare, Medicaid

July 26, 2007 – Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee lost a bid today to table a Democratic bill, the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act, which makes significant changes in Medicare. Yesterday, the Democrats delayed the vote to allow Republican’s more time to study the measure. But, it also gave them time to introduce their own version, which Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) said could be paid for by cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Read more...

Democrats Offer SCHIP Bill that Increases Cigarette Tax, Reduces Medicare Advantage Pay

Physician pay also gets increased, more preventive services in House bill: GOP prepares alternative


Daily Reports


July 25, 2007 - House Democrats on Tuesday introduced legislation that would reduce payments to Medicare Advantage plans and increase the federal cigarette tax by 45 cents per pack to fund SCHIP and make revisions to Medicare, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (Freking, AP/Houston Chronicle, 7/24). Read more...

Medicare Advantage Pay Cuts, Physician Pay Raise in SCHIP Bill by Democrats

Allows HHS Secretary to expand Medicare preventive services

July 23, 2007 - House Democrats on Sunday announced that they will unveil draft legislation within the next several days that would increase SCHIP funding by $50 billion over five years and make revisions to Medicare, the New York Times reports. Read more...

Senior Citizens Forced to Leave Their Homes by Medicare Cuts in Home Health Care

Ed Koch, Bob Weiner want home care alternatives to nursing homes

July 6, 2007 - Former Mayor and Congressman Ed Koch, and former U.S. House Aging Committee Chief of Staff Bob Weiner, have joined forces to urge Congress to restore Medicare funding to home health care that is being cut by the Bush administration. Read more...

Aging Committee Chair’s National Registry of Drug Company Gifts to Docs Creates a Storm

Proposal by Senators Kohl, McCaskill catch media’s attention

July 2, 2007 – It was not a hearing that initially grabbed the headlines but the repercussions continue to grow. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) held a hearing last week to examine the pharmaceutical industry’s costly practice of providing payments and gifts to doctors, and to consider what kind of influence this wields over some of the nation’s physicians. He announced he will propose a national registry to require disclosure of payments and gifts, and this caught the media’s attention. Committee member Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she will join with Kohl. Read more...

Payment Cuts for All Medicare Advantage Plans Would Save $54 Billion

Savings  for years 2009 to 2012 by Congressional Budget Office

June 29, 2007 - Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag on Thursday at a House Budget Committee hearing said that a reduction of reimbursements to private fee-for-service plans in Medicare Advantage would not result in large savings, CQ HealthBeat reports. Read more..

Does Negative Poll on McCain Indicate Senior Citizens Want a Democrat?

About half of adults say they won't vote for him, 59% of seniors

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

June 27, 2007 – A new Harris Poll indicates there is little chance for Senator John McCain to become the U.S. President, because 47 percent of U.S. adults say they would not vote for him. Who is most likely to say they would not vote for him – senior citizens, of course, who seem to always be at the extreme end of polls. Read more...

Rep. Dingell Blasts Medicare Advantage Plans’ Sales Tactics at Hearing

Chairman of Energy and Commerce says Medicare Advantage marketing practices are disgraceful

June 26, 2007 – A House subcommittee hearing today opened with a blistering statement of charges and penetrating questions from Democratic Congressman John D. Dingell, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing, held by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, was entitled Predatory Sales Practices in Medicare Advantage. Read more...

Senate Aging Committee Focuses on $19 Billion Drug Companies Give Physicians

‘Paid to Prescribe? Exploring the Relationship Between Doctors and the Drug Industry’ is hearing title

June 26, 2007 - How much are the prescribing decisions by physicians influenced by the reported $19 billion in money and gifts given to them each year by the pharmaceutical industry? That is what Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) hopes to find out in a committee hearing on Wednesday. Read more...

U.S. Spends $80 Billion Fighting Diabetes: 1 of Every 8 Federal Health Care Dollars

Study finds need for better coordination to improve results fighting major chronic disease for senior citizens

June 23, 2007 – One of every eight dollars the U.S. government spends on health care is spent on treating people – primarily senior citizens – with diabetes. This study was presented on Tuesday at a Capitol Hill briefing by the National Changing Diabetes Program and the Congressional Diabetes Caucus in an effort to increase the viability and the government coordination of the fight against this disease. Read more...

House Moves Forward to Give FDA More Power to Regulate Postmarket Drugs says ‘strong bipartisan support’ noted by Dow Jones

June 20, 2007 – The Food and Drug Administration may soon have new power to regulate drug safety, particularly after the drugs are on the market. It has long been a complaint of senior citizen advocacy groups and others that the agency is slow to act when problems begin to emerge with drugs they have already approved for consumers. The most recent case to draw attention to this problem was the diabetes drug Avandia, which was found by independent researchers to increase the risk of heart attack. Evidence indicates the FDA already knew of the problems but had taken no action. Read more...

Social Security News

Immigration Bill to Pay $966 Billion in Social Security to Illegal Workers, Senior League Claims

TREA Senior Citizens League to testify today before House subcommittee on immigration

June 19, 2007 - The immigration bill being debated by the Senate would allow over two million illegal workers who received Social Security numbers prior to 2004 to receive more than $966 billion in Social Security benefits by 2040, according to the TREA Senior Citizens League. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Consumers Union Puts Human Face on Weak Prescription Drug Safety Laws

Ad campaign starts as House panel takes up drug safety legislation

June 12, 2007 - Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is launching a coordinated advertising and activism effort today as a cap to its two-year battle to strengthen drug safety laws.  Congress is poised this summer to take up the most significant prescription drug safety legislation in 45 years. Read more...

Senate Bill Would Create Nationwide Background Checks for Long-Term Care Workers

Predators sometimes hired to care for our most vulnerable citizens, say sponsors

June 8, 2007 – A bill was introduced in the Senate today that would prevent those with criminal histories from working within long-term care settings by establishing a nationwide system of background checks. Read more...

Hearings on Prescription Drug Safety Could Highlight 'Dissention' Among FDA Officials

Lawmakers have noted rift between the approval and safety offices


Daily Reports


May 31, 2007 - A House hearing on June 6 to examine FDA's regulation of prescription drugs in the wake of recent safety concerns "may highlight the growing internal dissension between officials who approve drugs and those who track the safety" of approved drugs, the New York Times reports. Read more...

Senior Citizen Democrats Among Strongest Supporters of Clinton, Gallup Finds

Senior citizens give Clinton wide margin over Obama

May 24, 2007 – A Gallup poll released today shows senior citizens, who are Democrats or Democratic leaners, strongly support Sen. Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. They also choose Clinton by a wide margin over second place candidate Barack Obama. Read more...

New Group Says Chronic Disease Should be Key Health Care Issue in 2008 Election

Chronic disease accounts for 7 in 10 deaths, over 75 cents of every health care dollar spent in U.S.

May 16, 2007 - Chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the U.S. and a new coalition has formed behind the goal of making the issue of chronic disease the key health care issue in the 2008 presidential election. What were described by the organizations as “leading experts and organizations in the health care, business, and labor communities” came together yesterday to launch the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD). Read more...

Medicare News

Medicare Advantage Marketing Tactics Get Scrutiny of Senate Aging Committee

Chairman Kohl notes some plans have announced reforms

May 16, 2007 – Amidst growing concern about the aggressive marketing tactics of Medicare Advantage plans, the Senate Select Committee on Aging held a hearing today that shed new light on the problem from the point of view of the senior citizen consumer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the insurance companies. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

The Age Factor: Older Americans Most Negative About Iraq War, Says Gallup

Older Americans, especially those 70 and up, are most likely to say war was a mistake

By Frank Newport, Gallup News Service

May 11, 2007 - A special Gallup Poll analysis of more than 7,000 interviews conducted this year shows that older Americans are more likely than those who are younger to believe that going to war in Iraq was a mistake. Americans who are 70 and older are particularly more likely to say the war was a mistake. The impact of age on views of the war persists among subgroups of Republicans, independents, and Democrats, and also occurs regardless of one's gender. Read more...

Sen. Lincoln Chairs Aging Committee Hearing, Introduces Bill for Better Care of Chronically Ill Seniors

Medicare does not provide incentives for physicians to coordinate chronic conditions

May 10, 2007 - U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) chaired a Special Committee on Aging hearing titled, “The Future of Medicare: Recognizing the Need for Chronic Care Coordination,” on yesterday and took advantage of the opportunity to introduce Medicare legislation she has tried to pass since 2001. The bill would link eligible seniors suffering from chronic illnesses with a qualified health professional to coordinate their care. Read more...

Effort by Senate Democrats to Allow Cheaper Drug Imports Goes No Where

Republican maneuvers keep things they way they are

May 8, 2007 – The actions in the Senate were wild and confusing but the final result was the blocking by Republicans of the attempt by Democrats to allow the reimportation of drugs from outside the U.S., where they can be purchased much more cheaply. Advocates for senior citizens, including the AARP, have fought to allow buying drugs from other countries, in particular from Canada. Many see this as another victory for the pharmaceutical industry lobby. Read more...

Democratic Domestic Agenda Stalled By Debate on Issues Related to Iraq War

GOP blocks Medicare drug negotiations, Bush vows veto on stem cell research

May 7, 2007 - The Democratic agenda on health care and other domestic issues – much directly related to senior citizens - "appeared to be flying through the Capitol" in the early weeks of the 110th Congress, but "that initial progress has foundered" as lawmakers continue to debate issues related to the Iraq war, the Washington Post reports. Read more...

Senate Aging Committee Hears Testimony on Nursing Home Problems

Chairman Kohl to introduce legislation to create streamlined system of job applicant background checks

May 3, 2007 - Many nursing homes shown to be providing substandard care are still not being subjected to tough sanctions to motivate lasting improvements for and safety of residents, according to testimony presented yesterday by Kathryn Allen, Director of Health Care, Government Accountability Office. She was among several witnesses at a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI). Read more...

Capitol Awash in Medicare Bills Including One to Let Everyone Join

Key bill reduces reimbursements to Medicare Advantage Plans

March 30, 2007 – The Capitol seems to be awash with Medicare legislation. A key member of House Ways and Means says he will introduce a bill to reduce Medicare reimbursements to Advantage plans, a powerful senator joined a powerful House member to introduce legislation to allow those under 65 to join Medicare, a bipartisan group offered a bill to expand reimbursements for colorectal cancer screening and, another group of advocates want an end to the Medicare waiting period for people with disabilities. These are recent reports from Read more...

WSJ Examines Insurance Lobbyists' Fight to Stop Medicare Advantage Cuts

Budget analysts: Congress could save $54 billion over 5 years if it reduced Medicare Advantage reimbursements

April 30, 2007 - The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined how insurers are working to stop the proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage payments. As part of its lobbying campaign, America's Health Insurance Plans on Monday is scheduled to introduce a "minority advisory committee" -- made up of more than 30 black, Hispanic and Asian-American leaders from 16 states, the Journal reports. Read more...

Consumers Union Calls for Congress to Act Now on Drug Safety

FDA questions about Zyprexa data highlights Senate vote this week

April 30, 2007 - The news last week that the Food and Drug Administration is examining whether the maker of Zyprexa failed to submit clinical trial data about the harmful side effects of the antipsychotic drug underscores the urgent need for Congress to pass drug-safety legislation, says Consumers Union. The Senate is slated to vote on a package of reforms this week. Read more...

Senate Aging Committee to Look at Challenges of Improving Long-Term Care

Marks 20th Anniversary of Landmark Nursing Home Reform Act

April 28, 2007 – A hearing by the Senate Special Committee on Aging on Wednesday, May 2, will probe the progress that has been made under the Nursing Home Reform Act – often referred to as OBRA '87. Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) says the committee will also explore current and future challenges to attain a higher level of safety and quality of care for senior citizens in long-term care facilities. Read more...

Who Says Bush Did Right Thing in Going to War in Iraq?

Are senior citizens more likely than the young to back the President?

April 23, 2007 - The younger adults thinks the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq, while senior citizens stand behind their President. WRONG. Almost half (48%) of those age 18 to 29 support Bush going to war, while only 28% of those 65 and older think it was the right thing to do, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll. Read more...

Senior Advocates, Democrats Say Fight Not Over for Negotiated Medicare Drug Prices

AARP says it will continue to fight to make prescription drugs more affordable

April 19, 2007 - Although Republicans yesterday blocked Senate Bill (S.3), which would allow Medicare to negotiate better prices on prescription drugs for senior citizens, senior advocacy groups, such as AARP, and Democrats say the fight is not over. Read more...

Families USA Report Challenges GOP Claim of Lower Medicare Drug Prices

Shows prices grew almost four times faster that inflation

April 19, 2007 – A report released yesterday by Families USA says assertions by Republicans and the Bush Administration that the current Medicare prescription drug program has brought down drug prices, the opposite has occurred. "Prices of the most-prescribed drugs for seniors rose steeply last year," the report says. Read more...

Republicans Block Senate Bill Allowing Negotiating Better Prices on Medicare Drugs

Democrats fall short of 60 votes needed for floor consideration

April 18, 2007 – Republicans in the U.S. Senate this morning successfully blocked consideration of a bill presented by the finance committee that would have allowed the government to negotiate for better prices from drug makers for senior citizens in the Medicare drug program. The Democrats needed 60 votes to get the bill to the floor but the vote was 55-42.

“This vote gives the short end of the stick to America’s seniors,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Read more...

Democrats May Lack Votes to End Debate on Bill Allowing Negotiations on Medicare Drugs

AARP wants bill, says it will let members know how senators vote

April 17, 2007 – In a matter of hours, the U.S. Senate will consider a bill from the Senate Finance committee that will "allow" the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with industry for better drug prices for senior citizens in the Medicare drug program. The battle lines have become more rigid this week and it appears the Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to end debate. AARP, who wants this to pass, says it will be sure members know how senators vote. Read more...

Bill to Negotiate for Better Medicare Drug Prices Passed by Finance Committee

Amended S. 3 expected to go to full Senate next week

April 13, 2007 – The Senate Finance Committee last night approved a final version of a bill that will allow, but not mandate, the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower drug prices in the Medicare prescription drug program. Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

AARP Starts Media Campaign Urging Lawmakers to Allow Negotiations for Medicare Drugs

New bill also introduced to do away with late enrollment penalty

March 26, 2007 – AARP, a giant broker of insurance to senior citizens and other adults, was a strong supporter of the original Medicare drug program but has now decided it needs a major change. AARP is launching a media campaign aimed at getting lawmakers to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies, according to a report today by  Read more...

NIH Director Disagrees with Bush, Wants Fed Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Elias Zerhouni tells Senate committee he supports lifting Bush restrictions on federal funds

March 20, 2007 - NIH Director Elias Zerhouni on Monday during a Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee hearing on National Institutes of Health funding for fiscal year 2008 said that he supports lifting restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, the Los Angeles Times reports (Alonso-Zaldivar/Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 3/20). Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is allowed only for research using embryonic stem cell lines created on or before Aug. 9, 2001, under a policy announced by President Bush on that date. Read more...

House Begins Hearings on Pay Cut for Medicare Advantage Programs

Humana could be the big loser says AP report

March 20, 2007 – Humana is in line to be the big loser if Congress decides to cut payments to companies that run Medicare Advantage Plans, according to an Associated Press report in the Cincinnati Enquirer. And, as the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee opens hearings tomorrow, the Humana case is not helped by public records released Friday showing the company's president, Michael B. McCallister, was paid $5.87 million last year. Read more...

Reduction in Disease Prevention Budget at CDC Questioned by Lawmakers

CDC’s director says cuts hinder efforts as senior citizens, children appear less healthy

March 12, 2007 - CDC Director Julie Gerberding said on Friday at a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies that the federal government should spend more on disease prevention "but admitted under Democratic questioning that President Bush's budget proposal shortchanges the effort," CQ HealthBeat reports. Read more...

Medicare News

Democrats Consider Eliminating Extra Pay to Medicare Advantage Plans to Raise Physician Pay

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's report under fire on docs’ pay

March 7, 2007 - Democrats this year are making "concerted efforts" to cut Medicare Advantage payment rates "as a way to finance other spending priorities," such as fixing a scheduled 10% reduction in Medicare physician payments, CQ HealthBeat reports.  Read more...

Aging Committee Hearing Sparks Two Bills by Sen. Kohl to Encourage Older Workers

Economic growth may decline significantly due to declining labor force

March 1, 2007 - Two bills that will give older Americans the opportunity to work longer, if they choose, and offer incentives to businesses for employing older workers, were introduced yesterday by Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI). The action followed a committee hearing that heard testimony that economic growth could decline significantly as a result of the declining labor force due to the aging society. Read more...

Senior Citizens Least Likely to Think U.S. Will Succeed in Iraq

Confidence in war and most other national issues declining rapidly

Feb. 20, 2007 - Public support and confidence for the war in Iraq continues to decline and it is senior citizens that are far more pessimistic about the prospects than younger Americans, according to recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Read more...

Committee Passes Bill to Prevent Drug Companies from Conspiring to Block Generics

Feb. 17, 2007 - The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation (S 316) that would prohibit brand-name pharmaceutical companies from paying generic drug companies to delay market introduction of generic competitors, CQ Today reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, was approved by a voice vote with no amendments. Read more...

Senate Aging Committee Minority Leader Objects to Bush Budget Cuts for CMS

Sen. Smith no longer chairman but demanding answers from CMS

Feb. 17, 2007 – Although no longer committee chairman, Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon called a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and again put the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on the hot seat. Smith was expressing his concern about budget cuts proposed by President Bush and the growth of the Medicare Advantage plans for both drug and health care. Read more...

Rep. Waxman Investigates Profits of Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

Wants to know if plans pass negotiated savings on to beneficiaries

Feb. 12, 2007 -  The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Friday held a hearing about how private insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers negotiate prices with drug manufacturers for government prescription drug programs and whether these discounts get passed on to consumers, CQ HealthBeat reports. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Magic Phrase 'Forget Inflation' Drives Bush Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid

'Would harm those seniors who depend upon America's hospitals'

Feb. 8, 2007 – President Bush has proposed taking $101.5 billion out of the budget for Medicare and Medicaid. The secret for how this might happen is the phrase, "Forget about inflation." At least that is what he is saying to healthcare providers whose pay he does not want to increase with inflation, and to the senior citizens facing Medicare premium increases as their income hits certain levels. Currently, these levels for higher premiums are set to increase with inflation, but if the Bush idea prevails, they will be frozen and increasing numbers of senior will fall over the edge as inflation pushes their incomes higher. picked up the details on Tuesday. Read more...

Seniors Falling Prey to Aggressive Tactics of Private Insurers Says Report

Consumer advocates say lack of government oversight increases risk of losing access, paying more for health care

Feb. 6, 2007 - Insurance agents are pushing people with Medicare into private health plans that do not meet their health care or financial needs, according to a new report by consumer groups.  In its study, California Health Advocates and the Medicare Rights Center detail the "unscrupulous sales practices of insurers" and call for heightened government oversight of private insurers selling Medicare health and drug plans. Read more...

Bush Budget Chops $101.5 Billion from Medicare, Medicaid

Budget savings from higher premiums for some seniors, revised regulations

Feb. 5, 2007 - President Bush on Monday released a $2.8 trillion fiscal year 2008 budget proposal that includes $101.5 billion in savings from Medicare and Medicaid over five years, the New York Times reports. The budget includes more than $78.6 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings, and, according to the New York Times, it also includes revisions to federal regulations for an additional $22.9 billion in savings from the two programs. Read more...

Higher Income Seniors to Pay More for Medicare Drug Plans in New Budget

Higher premiums based on income began this year for Part B

Feb 4, 2007 – Higher income senior citizens will pay higher premiums in Medicare's drug program next year, if a budget proposal by President Bush is approved. It was reported last week that President Bush will propose reducing $70 billion from Medicare and Medicaid in his new budget to be released Monday. The New York Times reports today that one part of the Bush plan is to impose a surcharge on premiums for Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, as he did this year for those in Medicare Part B. Read more...

Pharmaceutical Company Misdeeds Being Exposed in Washington

Pricing problems, failure to do promised studies found, Dems want more regulation

February 2, 2007 – As might have been expected, the scrutiny of pharmaceutical companies is escalating with a Democratic congress. A senate committee has found pricing irregularities in Medicaid, the FDA finds they have not begun 71% of post-approval studies that were promised as a condition of FDA approval of a drug, and Democrats have introduced legislation to require increased prescription drug regulation by the FDA. Read more...

Medicare, Medicaid May Save $70 Billion in New Bush Budget Proposal

'He still acts as if Republicans were in complete control and Democrats had lost the election,' Sen. Rangel (D-N.Y.)

February 2, 2007 – President Bush is expected to unveil his plan next week for balancing the budget and over $70 billion of the savings are expected to come from Medicare and Medicaid, two programs of critical importance to most senior citizens. Higher Medicare premiums for higher income seniors and holding back on the fees paid to home health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers are expected to produce most of the savings, according to the New York Times. Democrats are not welcoming these ideas, finds Read more...

Senate's Special Committee on Aging Holds First Hearing Under Democrats

Focus was on how to enroll more senior citizens in Medicare drug program

February 1, 2007 – The Senate Special Committee on Aging is off and running under the new Democratic leadership but the Website is not. The new committee chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis) held a hearing yesterday but few knew, since there was no press release from the committee. A link did go up offering a live video link to the hearing but did not appear to be operational. According to reports gathered by, the hearing focused on the need for improved efforts at enrolling senior citizens in the Medicare drug program. Read more...

Members Named to Senate's Special Committee on Aging

No sign of activity on the committee Website but chairman busy

January 26, 2007 – The Democrats in the U.S. Senate may be busy with legislation but they are slow on getting their new committees in action, at least the Special Committee on Aging, which is now chaired by Democrat Herb Kohl, 71, of Wisconsin, who was the ranking Democrat in the last congress. Both parties, however, have named the members to the committee. Gordon Smith of Oregon, the former chairman, will be the ranking Republican. Read more...

Senate Bill to Stop Pay-Offs that Delay Generic Drugs Coming to Market

Key sponsor is Herb Kohl, new chair of Special Committee on Aging

January 26, 2007 – A practice that has long aggravated many senior citizens, struggling to pay for the prescription drugs they need, may soon come to an end. A bill to "explicitly" prohibit brand-name drug manufacturers from using pay-off agreements to keep less expensive generic equivalents off the market was announced in the senate by the new chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, Herb Kohl (D-WI). Read more...

Older Americans Pick Iraq and Immigration as Top Issues Facing U.S.

Younger adults also pick Iraq but think strengthening the economy should be number 2

January 24, 2007 – As is usually the case, senior citizens do not agree with younger adults on many of the issues that should be addressed in the United States and that they wanted President Bush to address in his State of the Union speech, according to a Harris Poll taken in mid-January. "Mature" Americans (age 62 and over) tended to pick "war in Iraq" and "improving immigration policy" when asked to choose two issues from a prepared list that they thought President Bush should address. Read more...

Senior Citizens Hear Little on Social Security or Medicare in State of Union

'Senior citizens' never mentioned and 'elderly' mentioned once

January 24, 2007 – Although President Bush spoke for nearly an hour in delivering the State of the Union address last night, the entitlement programs, which primarily serve America's 37 million senior citizens, was mentioned in only one paragraph. The term "senior citizens" was not used at all and "elderly" was used once. Read more...

Media Already Awash with Opinions on Bush's Yet-to-Be-Delivered Speech

Polls show health care affordability is top worry of the public

January 23, 2007 – Proposals President Bush is expected to make tonight in his State of the Union address are already drawing much reaction, according to The center piece of the speech will be proposals the White House says will make health insurance more affordable. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) told the Associated Press the proposal "won't help the uninsured, most of whom have limited incomes and are already in low tax brackets." Stark is chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee's subcommittee on Health. Many Democrats, however, were more hopeful. Read more...

Senior Citizens Not Likely to Hear Much on Retiree Programs in State of Union

Focus of speech will be health care insurance but not supplemental insurance

January 23, 2007 – The State of the Union address by President George W. Bush tonight will focus on a health care program providing tax incentives for Americans to purchase health insurance but a spokesperson said yesterday that it was not clear if this would include supplemental health insurance purchased by millions of senior citizens to fill the health care gaps in Medicare. No advance notice was provided to indicate the president may address changes in either Social Security of Medicare. Read more...

Fed Chief Continues Greenspan Warnings of Financial Disaster from Entitlements

Medical costs growing faster than wages, booming elderly population spell trouble

January 19, 2007 – It was not exactly news, but Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a senate committee yesterday that spending on entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – will climb quickly in the next decade. This warning of the disastrous effect of entitlement spending on the nation as Americans live longer and medical costs climb faster than personal incomes was a common warning from his predecessor, Alan Greenspan. Read more...

Veterans are Satisfied with Prescription Drug Program that Provides Better Prices

New group seeking ideas on improving vet health care in the future

January 17, 2007 – While Democrats were touting the Department of Veterans Affairs prescription drug program as a model for negotiating better prices on drugs, the Republicans were saying this is possible because the drug program for vets is so limited and will not serve the needs of seniors. Veteran groups, however, say America's veterans are happy with their program. But, to even improve health care for veterans, a new group is touring the country seeking "innovative, long-term strategies." In the daily report on Medicare by there is also confirmation that President Bush intends to veto the House passed drug bill. Read more...

Opinion Pieces Examine Medicare Prescription Drug Negotiation Bill

Everyone sees the problem but has a different idea on fixing it

January 16, 2007 - Several newspapers recently published editorials and opinion pieces that discussed the bill passed last week by the House that would require the HHS secretary to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies on prices for medications under the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Summaries of some appear below. Read more...

House Passes Bill to Mandate HHS Negotiations on Medicare Drug Prices

January 12, 2007 - The House of Representative early this afternoon passed HR 4, which mandates the Secretary of Health & Human Services negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices for senior citizens in the Medicare drug program. Read more...

Editorials, Opinion Writers Wade into Medicare Drug Negotiation Debate

January 12, 2007 – A round-up of editorials and opinion pieces from around the nation were gathered today by The vote is scheduled for today in the House of Representatives. Read more...

Consumers Union Urges Passage of Price Negotiation for Medicare Drugs

Studies show real savings possible for seniors citizens, taxpayers

January 12, 2007 - Consumers Union is urging Congress this week to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, as yet another study finds that prices paid by seniors in the Medicare drug program are more than twice that paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which negotiates prices. Read more...

New York Times Urges Congress Pass HR 4: Bargain Medicare Drug Prices

Suggests HHS Secretary negotiate just on prices most out of line

January 12, 2007 - The New York Times today editorially supported HR 4, the Democrat-crafted legislation to have Health & Human Services negotiate with drug companies for better prices for senior citizens in the Medicare drug program. Read more...

House Votes Today on Negotiating Medicare Drug Prices in Shadow of Bush Veto

Not much coverage in national news on important vote for senior citizens

January 12, 2007 – It’s an important day for more than 30 million American senior citizens who depend on the Medicare prescription drug program to help lower their skyrocketing drug costs. The House is expected to pass legislation that will mandate the government negotiate prices for these drugs with the drug-makers, rather than leaving this in the hands of the private insurance plans. Read more...

CMS Joins Those Saying Negotiating Drug Prices for Medicare Will Not Work

Cites weakness is allowing establishment of preferred list of drugs

January 11, 2007 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services threw its hat in the ring with those saying the Democrats' proposal for negotiating with drug companies for lower prices will not accomplish its goal of lowering drug prices. The statement from CMS further highlights what has become the focal point of debate – the legislation does not allow the establishment of a preferred list of drugs, which would give the government negotiating power with the companies that want their drugs on this list. Read more...

Negotiating Medicare Drug Prices Hits Obstacles: CBO Sees No Savings, GOP Senators to Filibuster

Most news is bad news for proponents of bargaining for drugs

January 11, 2007 – With debate beginning today and a vote expected tomorrow on the Democratic proposal (HR 4) to have the Secretary of Health & Human services negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices on drugs marketed through the Medicare drug program, a splash of cold water on the idea came in a letter from the Congressional Budget Office saying the drug prices would not be lowered by the legislation. Basically, Acting CBO Director Donald B. Marron said he doubted the government could do a better job that the prescription drug plans. (See CBO letter below news report.) Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

Administration Says Medicare Drug Program Cost Drop Shows No Need to Negotiate on Drugs

Most antifraud complain reports by prescription drug plans are missing at CMS

January 8, 2007 – Immediately after the Bush Administration announced revised estimates that lower the expected cost of the Medicare drug benefit, Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt says it proves there is no need for negotiated drug prices. The Medicare daily report by also finds problems with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services missing antifraud "compliance plans" from Medicare prescription drug plans. (The complete news release from HHS is below news report.) Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

Critics Take Stage as Dems Push Bill Forcing Medicare to Bargain on Drug Prices

Pelosi spokesman says savings should start to close donut hole

January 8, 2007 – As Congress prepares to take action this week on the Democrats’ proposal to require Medicare to negotiate for lower prices from the drug companies (HR 4), a survey of news reports by finds doubters and critics grabbing the spotlight. Two items being most discussed are a portion of the bill that prohibits Medicare from using a preferred list of drugs and suggestions that the donut hole can be eliminated with savings from lower drug prices. Read more...

Medicare News

Medicare Solvency Ranked Third in Health Care Priorities by Opinion Leaders

Most want Congress to cover uninsured, reduce health care costs

January 8, 2007 – The top health care priority over the next five years for Congress should be expanding coverage for the uninsured, says a new survey. Reforming Medicare to ensure it's long-term solvency came in third, just below the priority of moderating rising health care costs. The Commonwealth Fund released the survey today of what it says are "leading health care experts." Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Democrats Today Put Senior Citizen Issues High on Agenda for New Congress

Lower drug prices, more stem cell research, higher minimum wage should help seniors

January 4, 2007 - The Democrats took charge of Congress today with specific plans on the first legislation they intend to pass, which includes several of significant importance to senior citizens. At the top of this list for most seniors is the legislation that will order Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for lower priced drugs. The House leadership says that will happen Friday, January 12. This is the fourth bill on the House list. New Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it will be Senate Bill 3 in the new senate. Read more...

Strengthening Social Security Rated as Very Important in Harris Poll

Majority support health care proposals by Democrats in AP Poll; Gallup finds Iraq War still the top issue

January 3, 2007 - As the new Congress is sworn in tomorrow, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat leadership will find that saving Social Security is still very important to the American public, with almost nine in 10 U.S. adults (88%) saying they would support reform to ensure that the Social Security fund has enough money to provide benefits for all Americans for the next fifty years. The question was much broader than one that would measure support for specific reforms, like the private investment accounts promoted by President Bush but spurned by Congress and the voters. Read more...

Clock Starts Thursday on Democrat Pledges for Negotiated Drug Prices, Freeing Up Stem Cell Research

New speaker wants insurers to offer same coverage for mental illnesses as for physical conditions

January 2, 2007 – Democrats take control of the Congress on Thursday and the clock starts ticking on the pledge to pass legislation mandating Medicare negotiate for better prices from the drug companies and restrictions are lifted on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research – both vehemently opposed by President George W. Bush. These are just two of the hottest health care items the Democrats are expected to be pushing. One problem, however, is they have not found the money to plug the donut hole in the prescription drug program that is despised by so many senior citizens. Read more...

Democrats Face Opposition on Bills to Negotiate Drug Prices, Plug 'Donut Hole'

Provision added secretly by Hastert to help home-state Medicare Advantage company may get eliminated

December 18, 2006 – The Democrat's promise of a bill early next year to force the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices on Medicare drugs appears to have a problem, according to the latest report from And, there are problems seen in trying to pass other parts of their health care agenda, including getting rid of the infamous 'donut hole' in the drug program, where senior citizens have no coverage. Read more...

Democrats Will 'Mandate' Negotiations for Medicare Prescription Drugs: Pelosi

Bill one of six to be passed in first 100 days of new Congress

December 15, 2006 - Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday at a briefing outlined priorities for Democrats in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress and said they will seek to pass legislation that would require HHS to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies on the prices of medications under the Medicare prescription drug benefit, CQ HealthBeat reports. Read more...

Medicare News

Medicare Issues Getting Much Attention in Closing Days of Congress

Diabetes treatment, review of anemia medication rules top list

December 6, 2006 – The final days of this Congress are seeing considerable focus on Medicare issues. A group of senators have asked Health & Human Services to make diabetes screening and prevention a "top priority" for Medicare. Tomorrow, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider Medicare's coverage of anemia medication used to treat patients with end-stage renal disease. And, outside Congress, a meeting of advocates expressed their desire to see "patient-centered care" linked to Medicare reimbursements with pay-for-performance measures. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Senior Citizens' Political Hot Buttons Not High with Most Americans

Social Security, Medicare rank low in polls by Harris, Gallup

November 30, 2006 – As the new year approaches and the new Democrat Congress considers their agenda, the hot button issues for senior citizens and older baby boomers are far down the list of importance for most Americans. Two recent polls – Harris and Gallup – show Social Security and Medicare are not among the most important issues. Read more...

Democrats Targeting Cuts in $27.6 Billion Paid to Medicare Advantage Plans, Says AP

November 23, 2006- Associated Press writer Kevin Freking reports today that "Soon to be in charge of Congress, Democrats are looking to chip away at billions of dollars in payments to the health insurance companies that run Medicare's managed care programs." Freking says the cuts could range up to about $27.6 billion over five years, an amount the industry says would reduce the number of managed care plans serving senior citizens and the disabled. Under traditional Medicare, health care providers bill the government for the services they perform. But with "Medicare Advantage" managed care, the insurers get a set amount per person. Then, the insurers reimburse the people who provide the care. Read more at Yahoo/AP, click

Wisconsin’s Senator Herb Kohl to Become Chair of Senate Special Committee on Aging

71-year-old senior citizen will also have other heavy duty in new Congress

November 19, 2006 – A fellow senior citizen is in line to take over the chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. The bad news, because it could mean less attention to issues impacting senior citizens, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WIS) will also head two other committees in the new Democrat led Congress, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. And, he has been named to serve on the important Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee when the 110th Congress convenes next year. Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

Bush Administration Does Not Want to Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices

HHS Secretary tells New York Times he sees no compromise

November 13, 2006 – The Bush administration will "strenuously oppose" legislation authorizing Health & Human Services to negotiate for better Medicare drug prices from the drug companies, according to a report today by Robert Pear in the New York Times. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Medicare is Target for Change by Democrats and Republicans in Weeks Ahead

Republicans may revoke physician pay cut, Democrats HMO subsidy

November 10, 2006 – A flurry of activity impacting Medicare is expected in the remaining days of the lame duck Republican Congress and the early days of the new Democratic Congress. A major battle is already shaping up over a powerful Democrat’s proposal that Medicare stop subsidy payments to HMOs. The pay cut for physicians in 2007 that Medicare has declared looks likely to face a move by Republicans to eliminate the cut or modify it, which may have Democratic support. Read more...

Who Will Lead Congress - SENIOR CITIZENS!

November 9, 2006 – Senior citizens will take over the House and Senate leadership from the youngsters, as a result of Tuesday’s Congressional election wins by the Democrats. Senator Harry Reid, 66, will replace Senator Bill Frist, 54, as Senate Majority Leader, while Nancy Pelosi, 66, will replace soon to be senior Dennis Hastert, 64, as Speaker of the House. Baby Boomer President Bush is 60.

Senior Citizens Certain to See Lower Priced Drugs with Democrat Wins

Other than Iraq War, senior issues may have been most important to voters

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

November 8, 2006 – The results from yesterday's election showing Democrats gaining control of the House of Representatives and close to control of the Senate signals major changes ahead that directly impact senior citizens. First, the price of prescription drugs is going to go down. And this was the final nail in the coffin that contains the private accounts proposed by President Bush for Social Security. "Tonight we have made history; now let us make progress," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is now destined to be the first female Speaker of the House and most powerful woman in the history of the U.S. government. Read more...

World War II Generation May Tell Bush to Let Democrats Handle the Iraq War

Seniors were first to back the President but seem to have had enough

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

November 6, 2006 – I remember lying in my bed at night, searching the darkness outside my window for any sign of movement that could be an invading German soldier or spy. I knew just how long it would take me to get to my .22 rifle in the closet and had thought out the best defensive positions around my house from where to fire. It was World War II and my mother and I lived in a small Texas town not too far from the Gulf coast and the Texas border – proximities that flamed my fear that Nazis may show up any day. My Dad, my uncles and even one aunt – a Marine - were away defending our country. Read more...

Less Than Half of Boomers-Seniors Think Medicare Drug Program is Good for Older Americans, says AARP Poll

Those 61 and older more negative than baby boomers

October 30, 2006 – Senior citizens may not be as favorably impressed with Medicare's prescription drug program as many have assumed.   A new poll by AARP shows only 46% of Americans age 61 and older think Medicare’s prescription drug plan will be a good thing for older Americans who have difficulty paying for their prescriptions. Interestingly, these older people are less likely than baby boomers, not yet eligible to participate, to give it a favorable rating. Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

Democrats Say New Medicare Handbook is Misleading on Drug Program

Democrats also release study showing benefits to senior citizens of their proposals

October 27, 2006 – The Medicare drug program has been increasingly an issue as the Congressional elections near. The latest is a controversy over the new Medicare handbook, which Democrats say promotes the cost savings of Medicare Advantage plans compared with traditional Medicare, but fails to inform senior citizens that the plans can require higher out-of-pocket costs. They also claim in has misleading information on the ability of plans to change the drugs they cover. The Democrats also released a study showing their recommendations for the drug program will save seniors $500 annually and eliminate the "donut hole" coverage gap. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Privatizing Medicare: The Train has Already Left the Station

By The Center for Medicare Advocacy

October 25, 2006 - While the country debates the merits and concerns about Social Security privatization, Medicare has been morphed into a set of private plans with little attention or discussion. The private Medicare train is already out of the station. Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

Pharmaceuticals Pour Millions into GOP Races to Avoid Negotiating Prices with Medicare

Democrats promising negotiated drug prices in Medicare like VA

October 25, 2006 – It is not talked about much in the Congressional campaigns but an issue that is having a major impact on the cash contributions in key races is the question of allowing Medicare to negotiate better prices on drugs with the pharmaceutical companies, as is done by the Veterans Administration. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Congressional Candidates Not Supporting Social Security Private Accounts

AARP says in 45 Congressional races most candidates oppose idea

October 24, 2006 – President Bush's plan for private accounts as part of the Social Security program is a dead issue, if a recent survey of 45 heated Congressional races is an indicator. It found only one candidate out of 20 in 10 of the closest Senate races indicated support. It was even worse in 35 of the top House races where only two candidates voiced support for private accounts. An earlier election poll by AARP found 72 percent of older American voters also oppose the idea. Read more...

Medicare Drug Program News

Senior Citizens Pay More for Drugs Because Congress Refuses to Allow Medicare to Negotiate Like VA

Consumer Union finds seniors in donut hole can do better shopping around for best price

October 12, 2006 – Consumers Union released a report this week highlighting a study that found senior citizens who have fallen into the Medicare Part D "donut hole" can get better prices shopping around than through their Medicare drug plan. The headline was "Floridians in Medicare Donut Hole Can Get Better Drug Prices." What the headline should have been, however, is "All Senior Citizens Paying Big Drug Price Because Medicare Does Not Negotiate Prices Like Veterans Administration." Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Senior Citizen Issues Getting Top Billing in Democratic Campaigns

AARP wants lower drug prices, Canada drug imports, Social Security reform

October 10, 2006 – The "hot" issues in this November election appear to include several that are critical to senior citizens. A review of campaign activities by finds Democrats pushing for lower drug prices in Medicare through direct price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, funding for stem cell research and greater access to healthcare. AARP says it wants lower drug prices through pressure on drug companies, legal reimportation of drugs from Canada and a bipartisan commission to study Social Security reform. Read more...

Social Security Private Accounts Not Likely to be Supported in this Election

AARP survey finds strong opposition among those 42 and older

October 4, 2006 – One thing voters will not be hearing about this election are the Social Security private investment accounts that were so strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Republicans in Congress. That boat has sunk. Initially, the idea was interesting to many younger voters but the most recent polls show 71 percent of Americans age 42 and older - the most likely voters - now oppose the idea. Read more...

Medicare Drug Plan Doughnut Hole Becoming Election Issue in Florida Race

October 2, 2006 – With Congressional elections just weeks away, the Medicare prescription drug program is emerging as an issue, at least in some areas. The complaints so far are focused on the infamous "doughnut hole," where coverage stops but monthly premiums do not. Attention, so far, is focused on a congressional district in Florida, where about 25 percent of the voters are senior citizens, according to Read more...

Older Americans Act Expected to Be Renewed Before Congressional Recess

Medicare's pay cut for doctors expected to get reversed later

September 29, 2006 – With Congress rushing to their election break, action was taken on several pieces of legislation that effect senior citizens, including renewal of the Older Americans Act, which passed the House and is expected to clear the Senate before the recess. The most attention has been on the battle between the American Medical Association and Medicare over doctors' pay from the program in 2007. A key House leader says the 5.1% pay reduction by Medicare is likely to be reversed by Congress before the end of the year. Read more...

Senior Citizen & Baby Boomer Politics

Boomers, Seniors Ready to Vote and High Drug Prices an Issue says AARP Survey

Senior drug prices climbing at 6.3% a year, generics basically flat

September 19, 2006 – A survey of senior citizens and baby boomers (age 42 and over) has found 74 percent saying the price of drugs will be a "voting issue" in the up-coming elections. It also found 60 percent of those 60 and over saying they always vote. This voter survey was released yesterday by AARP, as it also released the latest survey of drug prices showing the most commonly used medications for older adults rose an average of 6.3 percent in the 12 months ending with June. Read more...

Don't Vote Campaign, Voter Information Site Launched by AARP

September 19, 2006 - As part of an ongoing voter education campaign, AARP today unveiled its "Don't Vote" initiative, which tells voters "Don't vote . . . until you know where the candidates stand on the issues." The campaign has its own Website where voters can select their respective state and receive information on state and national races, find their district, and register to vote. Read more...

Clerk's Documents Show Law Changing Medicaid Transfer Rules Never Passed House


September 19, 2006 - The Clerk of the U.S House of Representatives has added fuel to the fire over the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA). The new revelations could end up burning the new law, which places severe new restrictions on the ability of the elderly to transfer assets before qualifying for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care. Read more...

Senior Citizen League Petitions to Stop Higher Medicare Premiums Based on Income

Petition to Congress opposes means testing, supports repeal law

September 11, 2006 - For the first time since Medicare's creation 41 years ago, seniors will no longer pay the same amount for the same services. Premium rates for Part B – which covers doctors' visits, tests, and outpatient care – will now be determined based on income, or "means testing". As a result, as many as 2.3 million seniors will have to pay dramatically more for a benefit intended to help protect the hard-earned assets of these older Americans, says the TREA Senior League. Read more...

Opinion: Medicare Means Testing a Costly Slip

Senior citizen group supports House bill to repeal higher Medicare premiums based on income

By Ralph McCutchen
Note: The following was written by Ralph McCutchen, chairman of the TREA Senior Citizens League, and first published September 1, 2006.

September 11, 2006 - For the first time since Medicare's creation 41 years ago, seniors will no longer pay the same amount for the same services. Premium rates for Part B - expected to be announced later this month by the Department of Health and Human Services for 2007 - now will be means tested, that is, determined based on income. Read more... Also see more about this issue in the Medicare News section.

Study of Nursing Home Disasters in Last Year's Hurricanes Recommends Changes

Senate Select Committee on Aging holding hearings seeking ways to make improvements

August 18, 2006 – The highly publicized problems that occurred with the protection and evacuation of senior citizens from nursing homes during last year's hurricanes along the Gulf Coast prompted the Senate Select Committee on Aging to hold two hearings seeking ways to make improvements. Yesterday, the Inspector General of Health and Human Services issued a report – requested by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), ranking Democrat on the Senate committee – providing more details on what happened and recommending actions to do better this year. Read more...

GM Chairman Wants Full Disclosure of Medicare Claims Database

Wagoner tells Senate Aging Committee healthcare needs to be more affordable, accessible and accountable

July 14, 2006 – The chairman of General Motors yesterday called on the Bush Administration to release the complete Medicare Claims Database. Richard Wagoner, GM's Chairman and CEO, presented testimony to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he also said Congress and other public and private-sector stakeholders must work together "to make health care more affordable, accessible, and accountable on a comprehensive, national basis." Read more...

Pennsylvania Senior Citizens Get Cheaper Medicine and Taxes by New Bills

Governor says they will pay less than seniors in any other state

July 9, 2006 – Senior citizens in Pennsylvania may pay less for their medicine than seniors in any other state – and maybe less in taxes, if the promises in two bills recently signed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) live up to their expectations. Friday, Rendell signed the PACE Plus program to lower the cost of medicine and in late June he signed a bill expected to completely eliminate property taxes for hundreds-of-thousands of seniors. Read more...

Senior Citizens Drop Bush Approval More than Others Since 2004

Older Americans join others in giving Bush all-time low approval

June 6, 2006 – The public's approval of President George W. Bush hit an all time low in the latest research by the Pew Research Center – 33%. Although the analysis by Pew highlights the big drop in approval by moderate Republicans, it is senior citizens that lead all age groups in lowering the approval rating since the 2004 election. Then, seniors were the strongest backers of the President (53%) but today they agree with all adults and give Bush an approval rating of 33%. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Senior Citizens Want Government Focus on Iraq and Immigration

Younger Americans more likely to say fuel prices are top priority

June 5, 2006 – As President Bush guides the Congress to turn their attention this week to a possible constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, senior citizens strongly want the focus to be on the war in Iraq and immigration. These are top issues for all American adults in a new Gallup Panel Poll but senior citizens put immigration next in line behind the war, while young adults place immigration behind fuel prices. Read more...

Senior Citizen Approval of Bush Same as All Adults but Has Dropped Less

Seniors back in January '05 had lower opinion to begin with

May 26, 2006 – A Gallup Poll released today shows that the approval rating for President Bush by senior citizens has not dropped as much as most other adults, but it is because the seniors had a lower rating for the President in the first place. The current approval rating by seniors is 33 percent, the same as the average for American adults of all ages. Read more...

Aging Committee Tries Again at Learning How to Protect Seniors in Disasters

Homeland Security official outlines major issues faced after Katrina

May 19, 2006 – Yesterday, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held it's second hearing pertaining to questions of safety for senior citizens during natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina. The committee heard from five witnesses, including Dan Sutherland of Homeland Security, who discussed the major problems for older Americans hit by Katrina. Read more...

House Ignores Bush Medicare, Medicaid Cuts in Passing Budget Resolution

May 18, 2006 – Completing a complete turn around, the House of Representatives this morning approved the 2007 budget resolution without proposals by President Bush to reduce spending for Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs. Bush, who recommended cuts of $36 billion for Medicare, said in April he will veto any bill that does not include these cuts. Read more...

Aging Committee Considers Better Care for Senior Citizens in Emergencies

May 17, 2006 - A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 18, by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to hear witnesses and consider improvements in caring for senior citizens during national emergencies. Read more...

Concord Coalition Urges Serious Solutions to Medicare, Social Security

Latest trustees' report confirms 'fiscally unsustainable track'

May 1, 2006 - With today's release of the annual Social Security and Medicare trustees' reports showing a combined long-term unfunded obligation of $15.6 trillion over 75 years in these two entitlement programs, The Concord Coalition warned that the two programs are on a fiscally unsustainable track and urged lawmakers to respond with serious solutions rather than free lunch plans or "do nothing" promises. Read more...

Senior Citizens Most Dominant in 'Populist" Political Camp

Pew Research Center looks at American political ideology

April 13, 2006 – A survey by the Pew Research Center finds "many Americans simply do not fit well within either the conservative or the liberal ideological camps, instead falling into one of the two other important U.S. political traditions - libertarian and populist." Senior citizens, they found, were more dominant in the populist camp than those of liberals, conservatives, libertarians or ambivalents. Read more...

Bush Threatens Veto if His Cost Cuts Not in Budget Resolution

Medicare, Medicaid reductions by Bush likely big stumbling block

April 10, 2006 – President George W. Bush, who has never used his veto power, said Friday he will veto the fiscal year 2007 budget resolution from Congress if it does not include cuts he has recommended in his budget. Presumably, this includes the large cuts in Medicare and Medicaid recommended by the President but ignored, so far, in the budget resolutions in both houses of Congress. Read more...

Medicare, Medicaid Cuts Proposed by Bush Look Lifeless in Congress

House members squabble over their votes on budget resolution

March 31, 2006 – Chances of Congress approving the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid recommended by President Bush in his budget proposal are now looking as dead as his proposal to add personal investment accounts to Social Security. The latest blow came in the budget resolution passed by the House Budget Committee, which did not include these cuts. The Senate earlier ignored them. House members began discussions yesterday on the vote on the resolution by the House, which moderates wanting a larger cap to be sure there are not more cuts to health care spending, according to Read more...

House Budget Plan Ignores Bush Cuts to Medicare but Hits Veterans Health Care

March 30, 2006 – The budget cuts proposed by President Bush to Medicare and Medicaid did not make it through the House Budget Committee, which approved a $2.8 billion plan last night by a 22-17 vote - down party lines - of the Republican dominated, conservative-leaning committee. The bill goes to the full House next week. Read more...

Deficit Reduction Act Cutting Medicare, Medicaid is Invalid says Public Citizen Suit

Version signed by Bush and passed by Senate is different from House version

March 22, 2006 - The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen has filed suit in federal court yesterday charging that the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 signed by President Bush on February 8 is invalid because the president signed a version of the bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate but not the U.S. House of Representatives. The law decreases student loan, Medicare and Medicaid spending, extends welfare cuts and cuts federal funding of state child-support enforcement programs. Read more...

Aging Agency Prepares for Older American Act Reauthorization

Proposing technical changes and new 'Choices for Independence'

March 19, 2006 – Representatives from the Administration on Aging will be meeting today at the 2006 Joint Conference of the National Council on Aging and the American Society of Aging to discuss changes they are proposing in the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, including a proposal called "Choices for Independence," which is a $28 million demonstration project. AoA says it builds on the mission and success of the Act and aims to strengthen and modernize its role in promoting consumer choice, control, and independence in long-term care. Read more...

Senior Citizens May Have Sunk Bush Approval Rating

Seniors must likely to oppose foreign ownership, investment in U.S.

March 16, 2006 - In the aftermath of the Dubai ports deal, President Bush's approval rating has hit a new low and his image for honesty and effectiveness has been damaged. Interestingly, senior citizens may have a lot to do with the decline in Bush's ratings, since they are the age group most opposed to foreign ownership and investment in the U.S., according to a new Pew Poll. Read more...

Senate Aging Chair Wants Tax Incentives for Long-Term Care Savings

March 15, 2006 – At a hearing last week on the preparedness of Americans for long-term care financing, held by the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, Chairman Gordon H. Smith (R-Oregon) pledged to introduce legislation offering tax incentives for those who invest in long-term care savings. Read more...

Secretive Senate Aging Committee Plans Hearing on Women's Retirement Income

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

March 14, 2006 – In the first four years of President George W. Bush's administration, senior citizen issues were well aired by the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, but this took a drastic turn for the worse in the second administration, when the chairmanship of the committee changed. Since Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R- Oregon) took charge, the hearings have been rare and little publicized. A once highly active a committee that sought out solutions to meaningful challenges facing America's senior citizen has become a dim echo lost in the sea of relevant discussion from other sources. Read more...

Voters Say Bush Can't Improve Healthcare, Independents Turning to Sen. Clinton

March 14, 2006 - A new Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll released today shows U.S. adults in general show lackluster confidence and trust in the president when it comes to improving the healthcare system. More independent voters say they have confidence in Sen. Hillary Clinton. Read more...

Bush Medicare Cuts Getting Cold Shoulder in Senate and House

Conservative House Study Committee, however, recommends even more cuts

March 9, 2006 – Republican enthusiasm for cutting Medicare is waning rapidly. The Senate Budget Committee is holding a mark-up session today on their 2007 budget resolution, which ignores President Bush's proposed cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs. It is just as hot in the House, where 60 moderate Republican members sent a letter to House Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle saying they oppose the Bush cuts to Medicare. There is another side, however, with the conservative House Republican Study Committee proposing even more cuts that Bush recommended, according to Read more...

Senate May Not Consider Bush Medicare Budget Cuts

Finance chair says there are not enough votes to pass them

March 8, 2006 – The conflicting signals from Washington about cuts in Medicare continued today with a report that Senate Budget Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) says he will not include the cuts recommended by President Bush in his committee's budget bill. He says there are not enough votes to pass them, according to's Capitol Hill Watch. Read more...

Report of Massive Deficit in Bush Budget Sets Off New Alarms for Medicare

Senate, House budget leaders say they are ready to cut entitlements more

March 6, 2006 – An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office says the 2007 budget proposed by President Bush will increase the federal deficit by $35 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over ten years. This has raised new alarm that entitlement programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, may be in for additional reductions by the Congress – in particular the House - as they consider the budget. The CBO reports shows the Bush proposal already includes five year reductions for Medicare of $37 billion and all entitlement programs by $56 billion, according to Read more...

Sen. Frist Proposes Six Reforms for Medicare to Begin Entitlement Control

Medicare pinpointed as bigger economic threat that Social Security

Feb. 28, 2006 – Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said yesterday that the "demographic aging revolution dictates that the spending path we’re on is unsustainable" because of the cost to maintain Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He said the place to begin cutting back is with Medicare. "Whereas Social Security will go bankrupt in 2040, the Medicare Trust Fund will go bust 20 years earlier…in 2020" he said. He proposed six "fundamental reforms" for Medicare in this speech to the Detroit Economic Club. Read more...

Fifty-One Centenarians Vote in South Texas Election; So Records Show

Population estimates indicate Webb County should have only 19 over 100

Feb. 28, 2006 – Fifty-one centenarians - senior citizens that have made it to age 100 - have already voted in the first week of early voting in Webb County. Joining the centenarians at the polls were 93 seniors over age 90. At least that is what an attorney for a congressional candidate claims has happened in this district that stretches the length of South Texas from San Antonio to Mexico. Read more...

Concern Expressed about Bush Cost Hikes in Veterans Health Care

Air Force Association sees an adverse impact on nation's veterans, retirees

Feb. 22, 2006 - The Air Force Association (AFA) today expressed concern about certain provisions in the President's Fiscal Year 2007 budget, which they say could have an adverse impact on our nation's veterans and retirees and their families. The Bush administration's budget would significantly increase fees and co-pays for certain groups of individuals in both the TRICARE and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care systems. Read more...

Suit Says Bill Signed by Bush Cutting Medicaid Not the One Passed by House

Elder Law Attorney Sues over New 'Law' Affecting Medicaid Transfers


Feb. 20, 2006 - An Alabama elder law attorney has filed suit in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), which President Bush signed February 8, on the grounds that the bill signed was not the same bill that the House of Representatives passed. The Constitution requires that a bill must pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President in identical forms to become law. Read more...

Senior Citizens Not as Likely as Most to be Leaning to Democrats

New Pew Survey says President Bush is drag on his party's prospects

Feb. 13, 2006 - President Bush's unpopularity has become a drag on his party's prospects in the fall but senior citizens age 65 and older are not as likely to be leaning Democratic as is the average American voter, according to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 1-5 among 1,502 adults. Expand that age bracket to include baby boomers (50+), however, and a majority of both older men and women are leaning toward the Democrats. Read more...

Defense of Medicare Budget Cuts Takes Spotlight in Washington

Administration officials faced angry Congressmen from both parties

Feb.8, 2006 – Today President Bush defended his proposed $36 billion reduction for Medicare spending in his budget proposal  for FY 2007 and prepared to sign legislation already passed that cuts another $39 billion from Medicare and Medicaid. Yesterday, members of his administration were busy defending the $2.77 trillion budget and the Medicare cuts. They also were facing questions about the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report by Read more...

Medicare Budget Cuts May Not be Welcomed in Congress provides more detail on specific proposals, reactions

Feb. 7, 2006 – Although the President's budget for 2007 that was released yesterday has cuts of $36 billion for Medicare ($105 billion over 10 years), reportedly the biggest in the budget, many are predicting it will be a hard sell to Congress after they, too, took big hacks at the program at the first of the month. examines the media and political reactions, and provides details on what Bush has proposed in a number of health care programs. Read more...

Social Security Investment Accounts, Indexing in Bush Budget

Reform ideas that never caught on in 2006 are back in the 2007 budget

Feb. 6, 2006 – There were so many things grabbing the public's and media's attention in the $2.77 trillion federal budget for FY 2007 presented yesterday, that many senior citizens may have missed that the President has put private investment accounts and the indexing of benefits (determining payments by need) for Social Security back on the table and in the budget. Read more...

Bush 2007 Budget Cuts $36 Billion from Medicare, $12 Billion from Medicaid

Feb. 6, 2006 – President Bush today released his budget proposal for 2007, which includes proposals to "save an estimated $36 billion over five years in Medicare." The statement on Medicare and Medicaid says, "The key to preserving the promise of Medicare for America's seniors and disabled is to enhance the long-term fiscal solvency of the program." The cuts proposed for Medicaid reduce costs by $12 billion. Major new expenditures in Health Care are aimed at fighting the flu pandemic. Read more...

More Cuts in Medicare Coming Monday in Bush 2007 Budget

New York Times reporting Bush will target spending linked to aging population

Feb. 5, 2006 – Senior citizens, still reeling from billions of dollars cut from Medicare and Medicaid by the Congress last week, are in for more bad news this week. The New York Times has published articles about the 2007 budget to be proposed by President Bush tomorrow and says there are more big cuts to Medicare ahead, including a provision that increases "premiums for high-income people, beyond those already scheduled to take effect next year." Read more...

Boomers May Lose Their Inheritance Due to New Budget Bill

Thirty states now have laws, too, saying you are responsible for your parents - half with criminal penalties

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Feb. 3, 2006 – Baby Boomers probably paid little attention to the final passage of the budget reduction bill on Wednesday – it reduces federal spending over the next 10 years by $99.3 billion with half of this coming out of Medicare and Medicaid. Middle aged Americans don't identify much with these social programs for the poor and the elderly. They may be in for a surprise, however, as the feds, and even the states, are moving to force the financial support for these aging parents back on their children. Read more...

Bush Says He Will Fix Medicare Drug Program

President wants bipartisan solution to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security

Feb. 2, 2006 – President Bush, speaking in Nashville yesterday, followed up with some details concerning healthcare that were not covered in the State of the Union. He said he will address the problems in the Medicare prescription drug program and called for a bipartisan solution to the financial problem of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, according to the Daily Health Policy Report by Read more...

House Passes Budget Bill with Biggest Cuts in Medicaid, Medicare

Cuts $99.3 billion over 10 years - 27% from Medicaid, 23% from Medicare.

Feb. 1, 2006 – It's done. The House has passed and sent to President Bush the budget reconciliation bill that was strongly opposed by most senior citizen advocacy groups and newspaper editorials due to the deep cuts it makes in Medicaid and Medicare. It was a very close vote – 216 to 214. The bill cuts the budget by $38.8 billion over five years – 50 percent of the cuts over 10 years are in Medicaid and Medicare. Read more...

Social Security Reform Has Withered but Program Still Needs Help

Author Nancy Altman says the problem is not that hard to solve

Feb. 1, 2005 – Social Security Reform, a buzz phrase for the last few years, seems to have come and gone on the agenda of President George W. Bush, as indicated by the lack of support in his State of the Union last night. There is, however, a financial problem for the program somewhere out there in the future. Nancy J. Altman, an author and former assistant to Alan Greenspan, says in the following opinion piece that the program is still vital and financial security is not that difficult to achieve. Click to read her opinion...

Senior Citizen Programs Get Virtually No Attention in State of the Union

Bush wants commission to study boomer impact on senior programs

Jan. 31, 2006 - There was little expectation that President Bush would propose many specific proposals to enhance the senior citizen programs of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid - those expectations were understated. What seniors got on these programs was a brief mention, late in the speech, that lasted for two paragraphs proposing "a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid." That was it! Read more, including text of State of the Union...

Veterans May Be Asked to Pay More for Health Care

Jan. 31, 2006 – Veterans are being alerted to possible increases in the fees they pay for government health care programs. Veterans may see increased co-pays for drugs and higher enrollment fees for the drug program and TRICARE, the military health care program, in the 2007 budget. This is reported in today's Daily Health Policy Report by, which also reports that President Bush has taken action to designate $1.2 billion for veteran health care as emergency funds, which assures its availability. Read more...

State of Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid Not High on President's or Public's Agenda

State of Union address at 9 p.m. EST expected to have little on "senior issues"

Jan. 31, 2006 – Senior citizens concerned about the future of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid will probably not hear much encouraging news from President Bush, when he steps before the television cameras at 9:01 EST tonight for his State of the Union. Health care cost is expected to get attention, but the proposals are to be more about the health savings plans Bush introduced in 2003 that have not, yet, caught on. Seniors are not eligible for these tax deductible health insurance plans. Read more...

Final House Vote on Budget Bill Could Cut Billions from Senior Programs

Passage expected Wednesday to cut Medicare, Medicaid

Jan. 30, 2006 – The Budget Reconciliation Bill, which many see as making drastic cuts in government programs for senior citizens – Medicaid and Medicare, is expected to hit the House floor on Wednesday for a final vote, the day after the President's State of the Union address. As reported today by the Capitol Hill Watch at, the bill will reduce federal spending by $99.3 billion over 10 years, with half of that coming from these senior programs. The Congressional Budget Office analysis says premiums for Medicaid beneficiaries in the bill could cause 110,000 to lose coverage by 2015. Read more...

Two-Thirds Rate State of the Country as Poor but Seniors Most Positive

According to new Harris Poll majorities believe war in Iraq not going well and damaging the president

Jan. 27, 2006 – Less than a third (32%) of U.S. adults believe the state of the country is "good," while 68 percent believe it is "poor." But, this Harris Poll proceeding the President's State of the Union address, shows once again, that senior citizens are not as negative about most things as are younger adults. On almost all issues dealing with military conflict, the economy and social actions the seniors are the most positive. Exceptions are, interestingly, the government's efforts to rebuild after Katrina and the efforts to make taxes more fair, where boomers and seniors are the most negative. Read more...

Senate Budget Chair Calls for More Cuts in Medicare

Republicans to recycle old failed issues in 2006

Jan. 26, 2006 – The Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee is calling for more cuts in health care programs in fiscal 2007, which includes Medicare, according to The Daily Health Policy Report by, which cites CQ Today. The daily news summary says Republicans will also be targeting health care proposals this year, but most are proposals that have failed in the past. Read more...

Homecare Industry Rallying Support to Kill Reconciliation Act

Senate bill going back to House for final vote freezes pay rate at 2005 level

Jan. 22, 2006 – Among the most active in fighting to kill the Budget Reconciliation Act is the American Association for Homecare, the industry group for home health care providers and those who use this service. Despite home health care being a popular option with senior citizens and studies showing it can be the least costly way to care for the elderly, the bill has several provisions that negatively impact the service. The most critical is a freeze on their pay rate for services from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Read more...

Television Campaign to Stop Health Care Cuts for Seniors Launched by AFSCME

Rep. Nussle targeted in effort to defeat GOP budget cuts in February 1 House vote

Jan. 19, 2006 – A new television campaign aimed at persuading "moderate GOP members" of Congress to oppose cuts in the budget reconciliation bill that would "gut health care for seniors," has been launched by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities (ECAP). Read more...

Vote on Budget Set for Feb. 1; Senior Groups Seek to Sway GOP Moderates

Major cuts in senior citizen programs on the line in vote


Jan. 16, 2006 - House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has tentatively scheduled a re-vote on the 2006 budget reconciliation bill (S 1932) for February 1, the day after the House reconvenes following its winter recess. Moderate Republicans are feeling mounting pressure from groups like AARP to change their votes. Read more...

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AARP Controversy with Newspaper Emphasizes Its Conflicts

The Hill says AARP is softening on imported drugs, favoring Medicare drug plans like they help sell

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Jan. 5, 2006 – Has AARP softened its support for imported drugs, because they find drugs are cheaper from the Medicare drug program than from Canada? The Hill, a newspaper "for and about the U.S. Congress," says they have, but AARP has fired back saying The Hill story is a "blatant mischaracterization of AARP's position." It's hard, however, not to question AARP's position when they are one of the major brokers of Medicare insurance programs. Read more...

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