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Medicare Means Testing
by Ken Mahal, NSC President
Originally published on  October 12, 2006 - reprinted with permission

SENIORS COALITION SHOULD WORK WITH TREA, THE SENIOR
CITIZENS LEAGUE TO KILL MEANS TESTING OF MEDICARE.

  The Nevada Seniors Coalition was formed as a nonprofit organization on September 20, 1991 for the very same reason we again will be fighting to save our lives as seniors. It is for the purpose of killing the means testing of Medicare. At that time the NSC was a driving force organized to kill the very same legislation which has reared its ugly head again. By now most of you should know that in 2003 our sneaky Congress slipped means testing into Medicare literally in the dark of night and only in the last few weeks have we retired folks become aware of this new killer in our midst. Back in the early 1990s NSC started the movement to kill the means testing and was very fortunate in having a Roosevelt son of the president picked up on the same issue and ended up with multi millions of signatures sent to congress that shamed them into repealing that law in the next session of the legislature. TREA as some of you may remember sent a representative out to speak with us when we were at the Showboat. Their organization indicates they have a million plus members, so if their organization and a few million more of we retirees get on board with them we should once again convince congress to repeal the means testing of Medicare. As a matter of fact anyone who has a computer and on line would be able to bring up the THE SENIOR CITIZENS' LEAGUE web page (www.tscl.org) and sign their petition supporting repeal of means testing Medicare Premiums under H.R.5147 which was sponsored by Congress women Nita Lowey of District 18 NY. By the way there are at this time some 27 Co-Sponsors and no place do I find a Nevada Representative having signed on as supporter of this bill.

  The reason it is so important to support the repeal of Means Testing of Medicare is because it is believed that the wealthy people who are being means tested will see that it would be cost effective for them to just drop out of Medicare and find health care under an independent program. And if that takes place it means that all of us will pay much higher premiums without their financial support. Isn’t that interesting that we need the rich people to stay with us or we will pay much higher premiums? (By the way as an aside I understand from a member that several members who were original members of NSC were upset because of a misprint in an article that stated I started NSC. What I said is that I have been president of NSC for about six years; I never have stated that I started the organization even though I have been a part of it almost since its inception). Back to the Means Testing and H.R.5147 you could also go to the library and get some one to help you onto a computer and fill out the TREA form. Our Knight Allen could give you some ideas on the library thing. We will look into whether there is a way that we could fill out something that TREA could use and if so we will help out. Another problem that is rearing its ugly head with Medicare and part D of the prescription drug plan is the so called donut hole which is when one has used up the first portion of the drug plan and in 2007 the kick in point I understand will be at $3850 where you pay until $5,000 is reached or some dumb thing like that (In 2007 (2006) the deductible will go up to $265 ($250), the initial coverage limit or “donut hole” will go up to $2,400 ($2,250) and the true out of pocket cost or TrOOP will be $3,850 ($3,600) before the Catastrophic phase is reached at which point — $5,100 —the government will pay 95% of the drug costs — VWP). I have said for years our government was making this program so full of holes that most of us would want to opt out of it. In fact I am going to include what I wrote on several years back on how we should do this program without all of these deductibles and holes that take more money out of our billfold, mattress or wherever we think it might be safe to hide from everyone. Maybe some of you remember when I presented the suggested prescription drug proposal to Health and Human Services chief Ms. Shalala when Harry Reid had her come out here to speak with us. I’ll never forget her comments after reading it she said, “Mr. Mahal this is so simple we’d probably screw it up.” Well no one is as good at screwing things up as our government and what is so maddening is that they know it and don’t want any help to keep from screwing it up.

  REPEAL MEANS TESTING AND DO A PRESCRIPTION PROGRAM RIGHT.

  A PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM THAT WORKS FOR ALL: (PDP).

Seniors in Medicare have lived without a prescription drug plan 20+ years. It is time to change that with a simple comprehensive, self financing plan, covering everyone, with $1,000 prescription drug increments including a catastrophic drug cap as shown below.

(The below monthly charges are subject to actuarial refinement)

Plan A $1,000 per year of prescription drugs at $24 per month or $288 per year.
Plan B $2,000 ---------------------------------------$45 ----------------$540-----------.
Plan C $3.000 ---------------------------------------$60 ----------------$720-----------.
Plan D $4,000 ---------------------------------------$72 ----------------$864-----------.
Plan E $5,000 -------------------------------------- -$75 ----------------$900-----------.
Plan F Catastrophic Drug Program: All costs above $5,000.

This should cover everything above $5,000 on a person per year basis and be included in the monthly premiums listed above. Anyone selecting less than Plan E $ 5,000.00 would be liable for that gap difference before the catastrophic coverage takes place.

The Plan Administration is simple. Use a “Medicare Prescription Drug Smart Card”. A senior opts for Plan A, B, C, D, or E in $1,000 increments, paying premiums accordingly. The Smart Card automatically deducts, track purchases, pays and forwards that information to the central tracking system by computer thus eliminating paperwork. Pay plan by monthly or 12 month lump sum contract, with renewal & plan change in the 11th month annually. For low income people let Congress set some subsidy program and all follow the same program. There will be no means testing which is extremely unfair.

The above is submitted for consideration, questions and general comments, for response.

It is no surprise to me that congress has made such a mess of the prescription drug plan except for those of you who have been smart enough to belong to a good HMO. One can hope eternal that we can make it simple for everyone not just the HMO folks. I think the suggestion above is about as simple and straight forward as one could make it. Maybe we can get TREA on our side to carry this idea to the right people in Washington while they are working on collecting signatures for the repeal of Means Testing. Let us hope so.

  NO NEVADA STATE TROUPERS FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.

  (The NSC Board has decided not to have this group this year)

  If any of you know how to shut down the Regional Transit Authority meeting the 2nd Thursday of December let me know how we can do it. I wrote a letter to Mayor Goodman inviting him in case he doesn’t need to go to an RTC meeting that Thursday when we also have our meeting. Or if you have a better idea for ending the year let us know.

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