If you watched the first of this year’s three 2012 presidential debates, you heard the candidates talk a great deal about Medicare.
Both Pres. Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney agree that Medicare needs fixing. That much was apparent long before the debate.
Pres. Obama’s approach to Medicare reform has been public knowledge since the Affordable Health Care Act (better known as Obamacare) was passed by Congress in 2010. As far as Medicare goes, provisions of the Act address two key areas of Medicare services:
- Preventive Health Services
According to NPR, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that more than 14 million Medicare users received at least one free preventive health service during the first five months of 2012. NPR also reports that the new law includes potentially far-reaching changes making it easier for seniors to receive medical services in their homes instead of at such institutional settings as nursing homes.
- Prescription Drug Plans
NPR reports that the new law, over several years, is set to reduce the amount of money Medicare drug plans can charge individuals for drugs when their coverage lapses in the “donut hole.”
Currently, Medicare Part D recipients enter an initial coverage period after their deductible is met. During this initial coverage phase, the recipient’s prescription drug plan pays its share for each covered drug until the combined amount, including the deductible, reaches $2,930.
Once the recipient and his or her Medicare prescription drug plan have reached the combined $2,930 threshold, the Medicare Part D recipient is said to be in the “donut hole” period.
During this stage the recipient normally has to pay prescription drug costs out of pocket until total out-of-pocket costs reach $4,700.
Prior to the first Romney vs Obama debate, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan had been the front man in putting forth criticism of the Affordable Health Care Act. Ryan was especially vocal on the issue of healthcare at this year’s Republican National Convention held in Tampa, Fla. In Ryan’s address to the RNC, he voiced his disapproval of Obamacare, characterizing the President’s approach to healthcare as “a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of healthcare.” Ryan went on to say, “Obamacare comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.”