Medicare costs return to spotlight following deficit debate

Medicare NewsControversial proposals regarding Medicare expenses have moved back into the forefront of discussions as a result of the federal deficit debates, leading many to voice concerns regarding the increase of hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars to the medical bills of seniors. 

It has not yet been determined whether any of these new proposals will be enacted in 2011, considering the current impasse faced by the government regarding its spending.  The Republicans are currently demanding these proposals so that trillions can be hacked from the federal budget. 

However, according to healthcare expert, Henry Aaron, from the Brookings Institution “Over the long haul, beneficiaries will have to pay more and taxpayers will have to pay more,” and that it is simply too expensive.  

These changes could lead to increases in deductibles, premiums, and co-payments for many senior citizens across the country. 

While seniors are still in an improved financial circumstance than they had been upon the enactment of Medicare, more than 50 percent of the elderly currently live on an income lower than $22,000 per year.  This does not leave room for medical expense increases for these individuals. 

That said, according to commissioner Jennifer Velez, of the New Jersey Department of Human Services “Medicaid is ripe for reform.”  It is her opinion that if states such as hers wish to be able to maintain the benefits of those who are the neediest, then the program must be redesigned.

 Conversely, many have stated that taking such actions may lead those most vulnerable residents to suffer.

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