CMS To Remove Social Security Numbers From Medicare Beneficiary Cards

CMS has a new mandate to remove Social Security numbers from enrollees’ cards after being warned for more than 10 years by government investigators to remove them. The new requirement is part of a major Medicare payment reform bill signed in law just last week. CMS now has four years to begin issuing new Social Security cards without the numbers, and up to eight years to issue replacement cards to more than 50 million existing enrollees. The conversion is expected to cost $320 million and will be paid from Medicare trust funds. Social Security numbers on the Medicare cards will be replaced by a randomly generated identifier, according to officials.

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CBO Report: Federal Deficit Decreasing, But Will Rise With Baby Boomer Retirement

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s report focused on the decrease in the federal deficit, Medicare reimbursements grew modestly in 2014. In the report, titled “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025,” researchers said there is a deficit of $468 billion expected for the budget year. This figure is down from last year’s $483 billion deficit. Additionally, the report found that the number of Americans without health insurance is expected to drop from 42 million to 36 million this year, approximately 19 million fewer people than would have been uninsured in the absence of the ACA. By 2019, the law insurance’s provisions will cost an estimated $571 billion, which is down $139 billion from initial estimates. The CBO also found that Medicare spending grew at a “modest rate” in 2014. In 2015, gross Medicare spending will total $622 billion, or 3.5 percent of GDP, the same share as in 2014. By 2025, Medicare spending will reach nearly $1.2 trillion. After 2018, federal deficits are expected to increase as more baby boomers retire and enroll in Social Security and Medicare.

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CBO: Long-Term Budget Outlook Bleak

A new report by the the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), federal debt is on track to be almost twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2037, if it continues to grow at current rates.

According to the findings, the aging baby boom generation “portends a significant and sustained increase in the share of the population receiving benefits from Social Security, Medicare, and as well as long-term care services financed by Medicaid.”

The report also concludes per capita healthcare spending is likely to continue rising faster than spending per person on other goods and services.

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Court Rules Seniors Can’t Reject Medicare

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that seniors who receive Social Security cannot reject their legal right to Medicare benefits, in a rare case of Americans suing to get out of a government entitlement.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey is among the five senior citizens who sued to stop their automatic eligibility for Medicare. But the appeals court ruled in a split decision that the law gives them no way to opt out of their eligibility if they want to keep their Social Security benefits. Armey and his co-plaintiffs say their private insurers limit their coverage because they are eligible for Medicare, but they would prefer the coverage from their private insurers.

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CBO Ponders Raising Eligibility Age For Entitlements

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report assessing the effects of making workers wait longer before they collect Medicare and Social Security benefits — an idea that has been gaining increasing currency in Washington as a way to curb the growth in federal spending.

The House voted last year, 235 to 193, to increase the eligibility age for Medicare by two months per year, starting in 2022, until it reached 67 in 2033. The idea was part of the House Republicans’ fiscal year 2012 budget plan.

The Senate voted, 57 to 40, against moving ahead to debate the plan, essentially killing it, but President Obama reportedly accepted the concept of raising the Medicare eligibility age during last summer’s negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner.

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