Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Update / Miscellany

  • On Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that the Medicare Part B premium -- currently $96.40 will not increase for 2009. This CMS fact sheet explains the rationale for the freeze and it provides the income related premium adjustments for Medicare beneficiaries with taxable income over $85,000. Finally the fact sheet informs us that the 2009 Medicare Part A deductible will be $1,068, a $44 increase over the 2008 Medicare Part A deductible. Medicare Part A pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, hospice, and certain home health care services. These changes are significant to the FEHB Program because there is a large contingent of FEHBP annuitant enrollees with primary Medicare coverage.
  • The Washington Post reports that in the coming week the Senate will consider the alternative minimum tax / tax extenders bill (H.R. 6049), which now includes the compromise mental health parity bill. According to the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, the House leadership, which is not enamored with this expensive bill, plans to take up the mental health parity bill as a stand-alone bill this coming week under suspension of the rules, a procedure that prohibits amendments and requires a two-thirds majority
    for the bill to pass.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that "To pinpoint hereditary sources of longevity, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., are recruiting 2,000 healthy people over 80 years old to compare the entire genetic sequences of these "wellderly" to those from people who died of common age-related illnesses before they reached 80." Keep your fingers crossed. The article cautions that
    Many experts in aging are skeptical. "We seem to know a lot about longevity in worms, but we don't know if any of it is relevant for humans," says Jan Vijg, who studies the genomics of aging at the Albert Einstein medical college. "The problem is that we don't really know the basic cause of aging."

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