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NEWS
March 6, 2013
After reading the GOP is returning once again to their outrageous voucher system for senior medical care plan ("Medicare next target of GOP," March 3), and reading Steven Brill's article about exploitive hospital charges published in Time magazine and listening while it was further discussed on the Diane Rehm Show last week, I feel certain of the answer to outrageous medical cost and poor health care outcomes. We should, as Mr. Brill suggests, open Medicare coverage to those under 65 willing to pay for the coverage at a cost somewhat below equivalent insurance costs.
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NEWS
By Colin Campbell and The Baltimore Sun | September 15, 2014
The owner of an Owings Mills medical firm is accused of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of more than $7.5 million in a federal indictment unsealed Monday. Federal prosecutors say Alpha Diagnostics owner Rafael Chikvashvili, 67, of Baltimore created false examination reports, submitted insurance claims for medical procedures that were never performed by licensed physicians, and overbilled Medicare and Medicaid, among other fraudulent acts. The X-ray company's offices in Owings Mills and Harrisburg, Pa., were raided last October by the FBI. Chikvashvili directed his employees, who were not doctors, to interpret X-rays, medical tests, ultrasounds and cardiological exams, rather than paying licensed physicians to do the work, the indictment alleged.
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NEWS
August 24, 2012
With all the political drama going on concerning Medicare from both parties, it baffles me that President Barack Obama has ignored his legal responsibilities regarding the "Medicare trigger. " That trigger (covered under Section 1105 of Title 31 of the U.S. Code) is a forecast from the Medicare trustees that general revenues will be required for 45 percent or more of the program's outlays within a seven-year period, which signals that Medicare is financially unsustainable. The president is required to respond to Congress, but though the Medicare trustees issued a warning in 2009, 2010, 2011, and again this spring, President Obama has ignored the law each year and failed to submit the required budgetary legislation to Congress.
NEWS
August 4, 2014
Bravo to The Sun for pointing out the critical need to implement reforms to our entitlement programs ( "Medicare's pleasant surprise," July 30). In an age when half-trillion-dollar federal budget deficits are austere, it is refreshing to hear from a liberal newspaper that the current path of these programs is not sustainable, particularly considering the demographics of the wave of baby boomers now becoming eligible for those benefits. If we are to avoid becoming the next Argentina, our leaders must establish a rational and fair plan to keep these programs solvent for future generations.
NEWS
November 2, 2013
I'm sick of our government. They lie to us all the time and force stuff on us that we don't want. Obamacare is too expensive, and if you read between the lines, it's the greedy taking care of the greedy. In these sad economic times, we need to redistribute the wealth. The other day on one of the Fox News broadcasts a comment was made about putting everyone on Medicare or Medicaid. It was like that thought was about the scariest thing Fox News ever heard. I am all for the heath care system in America becoming completely socialized.
NEWS
January 28, 2010
In response to Garrison Keillor's Jan. 27 commentary ("Don't knock elitism; it could save your life"): What a childish pout we have here, in explaining the Republican plan for health care as "let them die." I sincerely believe that the Democrats' proposed health care plan will cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare because that has been promised. That will most assuredly let someone die. I recently saw my first "comparative effectiveness" study. I was shocked to see the conclusion that Zocor would be preferred over Lipitor because the additional heart attacks with Zocor didn't cause so much lost work time as to cover the cost of the Lipitor!
BUSINESS
By Jay Hancock | April 10, 2011
Each time I write about reforming Medicare, the budget-busting health program for seniors, emails and blog comments follow. "I paid for my Medicare benefits," is the basic message. "It's not an entitlement. It's insurance. I'm just getting out of the system what I put in. " Retirees and boomers close to retirement are alarmed that substantial changes loom for the program they or their spouses contributed to for decades. Many see the potential cuts or greater required contributions as betrayal.
NEWS
January 28, 2010
There is no better news than having Scott Brown elected to Congress, and seniors are rejoicing. The Congressional Democrats just don't get it. It is difficult to understand why our Maryland Democrats would sacrifice and betray the trust of elderly citizens of Maryland and the USA. They have voted to take away $500 billion from our Medicare to fund Obamacare, which will only speed up Medicare's bankruptcy. Elderly people like me depend on Medicare and are at the end of our lives when we may need more care.
NEWS
April 10, 2014
This week, America learned what the folks over on Security Boulevard already knew — there's a lot to be learned from Medicare accounting. Medicare paid out $77 billion to health care providers in 2012, according to the long-awaited data coming from the Baltimore-based Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but some providers received a lot more than others. Not surprisingly, this small exercise in transparency was blasted by some of the high earners who fret that the information can be misleading and unfair.
NEWS
November 12, 2009
With the passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) by the House of Representatives ("House OKs historic health bill," Nov. 8), we are one step closer to a stronger Medicare for seniors and future generations, as well as stable, affordable health care options for all Americans. AARP thanks Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Donna Edwards, Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen for their votes in favor of better health care for every Marylander.
NEWS
July 30, 2014
Between the crises in the Middle East and Ukraine and the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, it's difficult to get domestic news on the front page this week, let alone good news. But the improved finances of Medicare deserve the public's attention, particularly given that the much-maligned Affordable Care Act is involved. Here's the bottom line: Medicare paid out less in hospital benefits last year than it did the year before. This is a fantastic development because, according to projections contained in an annual report released Monday, it means that Medicare will have enough money to continue paying for the hospital care of the elderly and disabled through 2030, which is four years longer than the federal government estimated for the program just last year.
NEWS
July 8, 2014
In a recent letter, Joan Anderson expressed her concerns that Attorney General Douglas Gansler and his running mate would had been more understanding of senior issues than any other team running for governor ( "Who is the candidate for seniors?" July 5). She cited no specifics for her reasoning. The Maryland Attorney General's office has a department called the Health Education Advocacy Unit (HAU). The unit's primary charge is to address issues and circumstances encountered by the elderly.
NEWS
By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | May 22, 2014
Millie Tyssowski, a retired Medicare executive and Social Security Administration budgeting official, died of congestive heart failure May 16 at Sinai Hospital. The Dickeyville resident was 93. After retiring, she served as president of both the Maryland and Baltimore City League of Women Voters, and campaigned successfully for single representation of 14 City Council districts. "Whether it was at work serving seniors and families at the Social Security Administration or her years advocating for more women in public service, Millie demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice," said Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
BUSINESS
By Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun | April 19, 2014
Since 1966, residents 65 or older have been able to sign up for Medicare, the federal government's health plan for seniors. But there are now private plans available, as well as a drug plan, giving people more options - but also raising more questions for beneficiaries. Michelle P. Holzer, program manager for the Maryland Department of Aging's State Health Insurance Assistance Program, offers answers to some of the most common questions people have about the program. The office offers free and confidential counseling and assistance in every county.
NEWS
April 13, 2014
The Sun's story regarding Medicare payments to ophthalmologists is incomplete and does not report the fact that the treatment in question is effective in restoring vision ( "Hundreds of millions paid by Medicare in Maryland," April 10). Maybe if Medicare payments are reported, then it should also be reported whether the treatment is beneficial to the patient. Not every surgical procedure requires general anesthesia. Report the number of "failed" laminectomies. Report the number of joint replacements which were unnecessary.
HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun | April 9, 2014
Eye specialists, ambulance service providers and clinical laboratories are the biggest recipients of Medicare payments around the country and in Maryland, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal health program for seniors, according to newly released data. Federal officials released the data Wednesday for the first time since 1979, offering transparency to the system but drawing criticism from some provider groups who fear that the data could be taken out of context.
NEWS
November 23, 2012
Among the points discussed in this "fiscal cliff" conversation is the impending insolvency of Medicare. That "entitlement " program must be reformed. There is a solution for this part of the equation. The present age of eligibility for Medicare is 65. Lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare to 55 will add about 20 million new premium paying subscribers to the Medicare rolls. These 20 million are relatively healthier than the current cohort above the age of 65. Thus there will be more money into the system via 20 million people paying the present rate of about $1,200 a year in premiums, and due to their statistically healthier status requiring much less outflow of dollars for services.
NEWS
March 19, 2014
I enjoyed Rex W. Huppka's recent column on why raising the minimum wage is a bad idea ("The argument against raising minimum wage," March 16). What the writer missed, however, was how raising the minimum wage impacts other employer costs such as increased Social Security and Medicare contributions as well as certain state assessments (e.g., unemployment taxes) that are based on the total wages paid. There is also the forgotten cascade effect up the wage ladder. Do the politicians who favor raising the minimum wage really think a person whose labors are already valued at the new proposed minimum wage will be happy unless their wages are similarly increased?
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