16 April 2010

Friday Alert: Part D, Tax Day, 2010 Campaigns heat Up

New Health Reform Law Extends Election Period to Change Part D Plan 

The new health reform law changes and extends the annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans.  Anyone interested in switching plans should keep in mind the new enrollment period is now October 15 – December 7.

Note that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides for a Special Enrollment Period for contract violation if a prescription drug plan (PDP) violated a provision of its contract under Part D in relation to the individual.  Violations include: failure to provide on a timely basis benefits available under the plan; failure to provide benefits in accordance with quality standards; or the PDP sponsor (or its agent) materially misrepresenting the PDP when marketing the PDP.  The enrollment period begins when CMS determines that a violation has occurred.

For other details on the new health reform bill, what it does, especially for seniors, and when provisions go into place, check out fact sheet here: http://bit.ly/ccGLay.

2010 Campaigns Heating Up: Retirees Must Know the Facts Political developments in three states this week were a reminder of how retirees – expected to be the largest voting bloc this fall – must be well versed on the issues and where the candidates stand. Alliance for Retired Americans President, Barbara J. Easterling, traveled to Arkansas to endorse Lt. Gov. Bill Halter for the U.S. Senate and rebut television ads that falsely claim he supports Social Security privatization.  Noting that Halter ran the Social Security Administration under President Clinton and has consistently worked to help retirees, Easterling said, “Bill Halter is a great friend of Social Security and Medicare.  He is a great friend to seniors.”  Write-up here: http://bit.ly/bA0D7P.

In the first U.S. House election since health reform was signed into law, voters in a heavily-senior Florida congressional district elected Democrat Ted Deutch by a 2-1 margin over his Republican opponent to fill a vacant seat.  In Missouri, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, criticized a provision in the new health law that prohibits adults from being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.  Video here: http://bit.ly/ce5t5S.   In May, both Pennsylvania and Hawaii will be holding closely contested special elections to fill vacant U.S. House seats.  “More than ever, we must be a nation of politically savvy seniors,” Easterling commented.

CEO Pay at the Big Health Insurance Companies: Enough to Make You SickAccording to new data from the AFL-CIO’s Executive Pay Watch, none of the big health insurance CEOs need to clip coupons to make ends meet.  A few examples of annual Chief Executive pay: Aetna - $24.3 million; Travelers - $20.6 million; Cigna - $18.8 million; and Prudential - $18.4 million.  “For too long our health care system took better care of CEOs than it did patients.  The new health law will start to change this,” said Ruben Burks, the Alliance’s Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks.  For more information on CEO pay in different sectors, visit the AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch site: http://bit.ly/bWnuVb.

Tax Day and Tea PartiesLast year’s economic stimulus package cut federal taxes by $232 billion.  Most Americans are paying lower taxes this year than last but you wouldn’t know it by the flurry of Tax Day Tea Party protests made up of activists protesting paying taxes.  New Mexico Alliance members held counter-tea party protests on Thursday.  They argued that, “Real patriots pay their fair share of taxes,” and members said they are happy to pay into Social Security, Medicare, public schools and public works.  New Mexico’s Terry Schleder said, “Our seniors turned out because they have historical perspective on the importance of government programs.” 

This week the New York Times and the Gallup organization jointly released a poll of self-identified Tea Party supporters.  While 92 percent of respondents believe the country is drifting toward socialism, nearly half also said either they or someone in their household benefits from either Social Security or Medicare.

Regarding government programs and retirement, political commentator Glenn Beck said this week that privatized Social Security accounts would be, “a better bet than the federal government.”  He also called for a sharp increase in the retirement age.  Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle said that these sentiments are troubling in advance of the first meeting, on April 27, of the new federal commission on deficit reduction.  “Too many people are urging this panel to cut Social Security and Medicare.  Seniors need to make their voices heard to preserve these great American success stories for future generations,” Coyle said.

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