13 January 2010

Senior's Groups Unite to Issue Health Care Demands

The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations has issued a strongly worded letter to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid iterating the key provisions of the two (House/Senate) health care reform bills which the senior's umbrella organization wants to see in the final version of the legislation:

* Closure of the Medicare Part D doughnut hole,
* Elimination of Medicare Advantage over-payments,
* CLASS program provisions,
* Nursing home transparency and improvement,
* Criminal background checks for employees of long-term care providers,
* Provisions to support and bolster the health care workforce,
* Improved care coordination services for chronic conditions, and
* A reinsurance fund for pre-Medicare eligible (55-64) retirees.

In the letter, LCAO Chairman, John Rother, strongly urges inclusion of provisions in the final bill which will address:

* Strong support for Home and Community-Based services (HCBS).
* The expansion of low-income subsidies in the Medicare program.
* Full inclusion of the Elder Justice Provisions from H.R. 3590 to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
* Deletion and exclusion of any and all age rating of insurance premiums in order that premiums are made affordable for everyone, regardless of age.
* Improve Medicare Part D by allowing real authority for negotiation of drug prices, outreach and assistance for Part D low-income drug programs, disease prevention and promotion of wellness.
* Simplify the annual beneficiary election period for Part D plans by extending the the option period to October 15 - December 7 of each year.

On Monday, President Obama heard from labor leaders of their deep concern and opposition to plans to help pay for reforms by placing taxes on top-end health care benefit plans. In many cases workers, through past negotiation, accepted those plans in lieu of wage increases or expansion or addition of other benefits. The initial concern was that this would affect only union workers and retirees, however, there is emerging a growing opposition to the tax notion from other affected non-union workers and retirees leaving the administration scrambling to lighten the blow while at the same time keeping its promise that health care reform would not add to the federal deficit.

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