Alliance for Health Reform and Kaiser Family Foundation Hold a Brieifng on the Future of Medicare Beneficiaries
January 16, 2014 10:53 AM
The Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation recently held a Capitol Hill briefing entitled, "Healthier and Wealthier, or Sicker and Poorer? Prospect for Medicare Beneficiaries Now and in the Future." The panel included moderators Ed Howard of the Alliance for Health Reform and Tricia Neuman from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Presentations were given by Dan Perry for the Alliance for Aging Research; Gretechen Jacobson of the Kaiser Family Foundation; Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Marylin Moon of the American Institutes for Research.
While the presenters all offered their perspective and insight into the current and future demographic makeup of Medicare beneficiaries, there was a strong emphasis on the fact that many Medicare beneficiaries are of modest means who are already paying significant out-of-pocket costs for their healthcare. As an example, Gretchen Jacobson of the Kaiser Family Foundation offered a snapshot of what current Medicare beneficiaries' financial makeup looks like:
Half live on less than $23,500 a year
There is a wide range, with respect to assets, among Medicare beneficiaries, with half of all Medicare beneficiaries having less than $61,400 in savings or less than $66,700 in home equity
In her presentation, Dr. Jacobson offered evidence that Medicare beneficiaries will become, overall, slightly more affluent in the future, but stresses that it is not an even distribution, stating that, "income and assets are projected to be somewhat greater among the next generation [though] much of the growth is projected to be realized among the upper income and asset levels."
Given the modest means of most Medicare beneficiaries - both now and projected in the future - the panel stressed that requiring beneficiaries to pay more out-of-pocket is not the right approach for policymakers to take in looking at ways to reform the program.
Marilyn Moon emphasized that Medicare beneficiaries shouldn't be burdened with more out-of-pocket costs with respect to home healthcare, stating bluntly that the proposal to reinstitute a home health copayment is, "one of the worst ideas to come down the pike in a long time."
To view both materials from the briefing as well as the briefing itself, please click here.
To oppose Medicare proposals to impose home health and hospice copays, join with other home care and hospice advocates during NAHC's annual March on Washington March 23-26. Please click here for more details and to register.