New Poverty Calculations Show How Health Costs Hurt Seniors
The Census Bureau's analysis finds childhood poverty declining because of the CHIP health care program and supplemental nutrition efforts. But older Americans fare worse because of out-of-pocket health costs.
The Fiscal Times: The New Poor: Elderly Hit Hard On Health Costs
The Census Bureau on Monday unveiled a rough draft of an update to the government poverty measure. ... The children’s poverty rate would decline largely because of benefits from the Children’s Health Insurance Program and supplemental nutrition programs like free school lunches and food stamps, experts said. The jump in elderly poverty was largely a result of out-of-pocket health-care costs. Many low-income seniors do not have supplemental insurance for Medicare, which usually only pays about 80 percent of bills (Goozner, 11/8).
Reuters: New Census Data Raise Number Of Poor To 49 Million
The number of poor Americans hit a record 49 million in 2010, or 16 percent, according to new data released on Monday that showed poverty rates for the elderly, Asians and Hispanics higher than previously known. ... The findings highlight the challenges facing Republicans and Democrats on a special congressional "super committee" charged with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years. Both sides have proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, which threatens to explode the U.S. debt burden, despite intensive lobbying against reductions by groups that represents beneficiaries and healthcare providers (Morgan, 11/7).
Meanwhile, Congress is considering a change in the way the government calculates Social Security cost-of-living increases.
The Associated Press/USA Today: New Social Security Formula Could Cut Benefits, Raise Taxes
Congress is looking at reducing future raises by adopting a new measure of inflation that also would increase taxes for most families. ... If adopted across the government, the new inflation measure would have widespread ramifications. Future increases in veterans' benefits and pensions for federal workers and military personnel would be smaller. And over time, fewer people would qualify for Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, school lunch programs and home heating assistance (Ohlemacher, 11/7).
And it's open enrollment season for seniors shopping for Medicare drug plans:
Kaiser Health News: SHIP Programs Can Help Seniors Save Money On A Medicare Drug Plan
Funded by the federal Older Americans Act and local jurisdictions, SHIPs help people navigate Medicare, the federal health-care program that serves 46.5 million older or disabled Americans. There is a SHIP in nearly every county, providing advice over the phone, in person and at public meetings. Some SHIP counselors even make house calls. This is their busy season: The annual open enrollment period for Medicare drug plans -- also known as Part D plans – began last month and runs until Dec. 7 (Jaffe, 11/8).
Kaiser Health News (Video): The ABCs Of Medicare Part D
Seniors in Maryland interested in getting Medicare drug coverage discuss counseling help they received (11/7).