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Out Of The Pockets Of Our Seniors: Our Service Members, Too!

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Over the last several weeks, our Congress has once again taken a giant step... in a direction I wish they had not gone. On the 12th of June the Senate fell 6 vote short, while yesterday, June 26, by a mere two votes legislation that would have prevented a potential Medicare disaster was stalled in the Senate. What is realized by almost everyone that what is harmful to Medicare is harmful to our seniors. What very few people realize is that it is also harmful to our active duty service members and those who have retired from military service - more on that below. One side point. I realize that "cuts in payments" do not directly come out of the pockets of our seniors. However, if these cuts result in physicians not taking on Medicare patients, isn't the results just that. It will cost our seniors; it will come out of their pockets.

June 26 and June 12

By a vote of 58 to 40 (60 votes were needed), the Senate affectively rejected a bill that would have avoided deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements to physicians. Because of this and effective July 1, a 10.6% cut in payments to physicians is set to take place. Ironically, just two days prior the House voted significantly in favor (355 to 59) to prevent this cut-back from occurring.

The actual Senate vote was:

Yea Nay Not Voting
D 47 1 1
R 9 39 1
I 1 0 0
ID 1 0 0
Totals 58 40 2

Similarly back on June 12 the Senate again failed to pass a bill that would have canceled the cuts in physician reimbursements.

Regardless of what had happened in the Senate, the current Administration had promised to veto this attempt to prevent the cuts in position reimbursements.

And Why Is This so

The Medicare (and military health care, read that TRICARE) budget for 2008 was based on these cuts going into effect.

Our Military

As mentioned above, there is much concern that with these cutbacks doctors will not take on any new Medicare patients. As our military's TRICARE payments are treated the same as the Medicare payments, this could easily mean our active duty military, their families, and all who have retired from the military (!) and their families (!!!) might find themselves in a similar situation; unable to find a physician who will take their case.

And what is TRICARE

TRICARE is the U.S. government sponsored health insurance plan for all active military members, their family, and all retirees and their families.

This Week's Almost Not Commented on Story - And What If She Didn't Keep...

RETIRED MARINE HAS TO FIGHT TRICARE FOR DAUGHTER'S LIFE-SAVING TRANSPLANT -- Four years after she retired from the Marine Corps, Bessie Miller had to fight the same military she was a part of for three decades. TRICARE, her military insurance, had refused to pay for a procedure for her daughter, Sloan Hunter. Hunter is 18 and suffers from a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Miller, 57, felt as if she and her daughter were getting "slapped in the face every time we turn around." After she gave the Marines 30 years of her life, she said, she expected its insurance to provide the care her daughter needed. When it didn't, Miller went to battle. She fought to get Hunter admitted to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, even though the hospital is not in TRICARE's network. Then she fought TRICARE when it refused to pay for a bone-marrow transplant for her daughter. By the time her claim reached the third and final level, Miller had contacted The Free Lance-Star and her local Representative, whose office lobbied for her. In addition, Miller called the hospital and insurance company regularly to confirm that each had the needed paperwork. TRICARE announced on 'Thursday' that it would pay for Hunter's $110,000 operation. Officials said she qualified for care under a rare-disease regulation. "I guess just bugging all these people, not giving up, refusing to accept 'no' for an answer, made the difference," Miller said. "That's the only thing I can think of, and I am totally thrilled and happy."

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt