Over 100 DC interns from around the country were able to do what Congress can’t – plan for the future by establishing proactive Medicare programs.
The students took part in NASI’s (National Academy of Social Insurance) Demystifying Medicare: 2013 Summer Academy.
The event was held at Kaiser Family Foundation and ran by Sabiha Zainulbhai, Health Policy Associate at NASI.
With talks of premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copays, its easy to see how young people can lose interest in the issue. But these eager participants listened intently on discussions about Why Medicare is important? and why Medicare a should matter to everyone?
Zainulbhai commented on why the event was important:
The purpose of this event is to expose educate and inform DC interns who are here in the city for the summer about Medicare and the nuts and bolts of different components related to it. Many of these people may be starting out their careers or are just in the city interning. We covered the structure and the financing side, and then move into the trade-offs between coverage and financing, And then look at the delivery and payment forms and then in the day with a debate with two young people who have opposing views on the Medicare issue.
Len Nichols, George Mason University, spoke on how Medicare’s multi-layered and complex benefit package; and also on the characteristics of the typical Medicare enrollee. Typically, to be eligible for Medicare you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident for 5 continuous years, eligible for Social Security benefits, have at least ten years of payments contributed into the Medicare system, at least 65 years old, under 65 and disabled, or any age with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis or a transplant.).
You’d think with such a list there might not be many people who qualify, but according to Kaiser Family Foundation, the District of Columbia has over 75,000 residents, including over 12,000 people with disabilities, who are on Medicare and the city benefited with feds spending over $850 million in 2009.
Representatives from AARP Public Policy Institute (Linda Walker), Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services [or CMS] (Stephen Heffler), Congressional Research Service (Patricia Davis), the Medicare Rights Center (Stacy Sanders), Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (Juliette Cubanski), and Avalere Health, LLC (Reginald Williams, II).
Medicare foots the bill for hospital and medical care for elderly and certain disabled Americans. Many might be unaware that Medicare is a federal health insurance program, not to be confused with Medicaid, which is a health program for low income families.
Medicare has two main parts. The program can be broken down like this:
hospital and medical insurance (Part A and Part B)
flexibility and prescription drugs (Part C and Part D)
Sadly, there are some things that Medicare doesn’t pay for – but through MediGap, 12 plans that the CMS allows private companies to sell and administer, qualifiers are able to still get some of their needs met.
Even though Congress as a whole has a national approval rating in the teens, they’ve managed to largely come together on most of the reforms in Medicare; and doctors say they applaud the U.S. House members’ final draft of Medicare legislation that will repeal the “sustainable growth rate,” reimbursement formula. These medical practitioners have often been bothered by a disregard for the dramatic cuts to doctor payments from Medicare.
Prominent law makers on both sides of the isle like the 0.5 percent increase in payments annually. But increased payments could mean potential cuts in benefits. Some Washingtonians want to see Congress working together and make Medicare and Social Security a top priority. They don’t want to see their benefits cut.
“Medicare is something that affects everyone – rich or poor, black or white,” says Doris Hymann, a D.C. resident who turns 65 in two years, “and it just doesn’t make sense that Congress can work together to fix Medicare for Americans; for their constituents.”
The National Academy of Social Insurance wants to advance the social insurance dialogue by offering the American public facts about how social insurance contributes this nation’s economic security.