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Articles written by Alan M. Schlein

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 By Alan M. Schlein    News    May 1, 2017

Proposed budget cuts could severely curtail effective senior health care research and initiatives

The Trump administration has proposed slashing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget, saying it is bloated with unnecessary expenses resulting in waste and abuse. It has also proposed to eliminate the independent status of the Agency for...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    March 1, 2017

Drug Prices: What Can Trump Really Do?

In the fall of 2015, Martin Shkreli, the founder and former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, ignited a firestorm when his company raised the price of a little-known drug to treat toxoplasmosis to $750 a tablet from $13.50. Earlier that...

 

Lack of transportation is a roadblock to health care

Pat Howard, living with multiple sclerosis for decades, gets around in a powered wheelchair since she can no longer put any weight on her legs. Last summer, her daughter Cindy was driving her 74-year-old mom back from an adult day care facility 30 mi...

 

Arbitration rules prey on seniors

The federal government is trying to stop nursing homes from forcing people into using private arbitration instead of lawsuits when people bring cases of elder abuse, wrongful death and sexual harassment. The private arbitration issue is actually...

 

A surprising bipartisan effort to improve health coverage

Rep. Diane Black, a Tennessee Republican congresswoman, and Earl Blumenauer, a Democratic congressman from Oregon, don’t agree on very much about health care. Both sit on the powerful House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee and both tend to vote...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    June 1, 2016

Congressional health legislative roundup

Normally, in a presidential election year, Congress doesn’t get much done. This year is no exception. But with a few months before July’s political nominating conventions, a brief window of productivity exists and some lawmakers are pushing...

 

Drug pricing options proposed, presupposed, opposed

Most Americans and leading presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle support the idea that the federal government should lower drug prices. But it's not likely to happen any time soon even though the Obama administration and Congress are...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    April 1, 2016

Struggling to afford the next big health care crisis: Chronic and long-term care

Editor's note: This is an expanded version of the story appearing in the April 2016 Senior Voice print edition. The next big health crisis is the battle over chronic care and long-term care. Patient advocates, policy experts and lawmakers call it...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    March 1, 2016

What is an ACO and what does it mean to me?

Editor’s note: The ACOs discussed in this national story have not reached Alaska, but the emphasis on outcomes for patients and reimbursing for coordinated care will become increasingly relevant to the health care system as a whole. Big changes...

 

Where the presidential candidates stand on Medicare, Social Security

As the 2016 presidential primaries and the nomination fights move to the political front burner, a look at the health care and Medicare policies of the candidates raises questions of how far the candidates and their parties want to go in pushing for...

 

Latest Medicare changes affect senior dollars

A new law signed by President Obama will help shield some 17 million Americans from steep premium hikes. But many will continue to see changes in the amounts they pay for Medicare next year. About 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were facing a 52...

 

Medicare open enrollment is also open season for scams

Medicare’s open enrollment, the time you can keep or switch your Medicare coverage, runs from October 15 until December 7. To Medicare scammers, open enrollment means open season on seniors. The best advice to prevent yourself from being taken...

 

Congress changes billing rules for hospital 'observation care'

Here is some Medicare bad news, disguised as good news. Congress has finally moved to change the laws about observation care, a problem that’s been vexing seniors for years because the laws are unclear. This has forced millions of seniors to face...

 

Medicare to provide coverage for end-of-life counseling

Doctors are different than you and I. They know how to die. They do not tell family and colleagues to do “everything you can” to save them. This may surprise you, but doctors often choose less end-of-life care for themselves than the average pati...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    August 1, 2015

One in six seniors have inadequate access to food

Millions of seniors are struggling to put food on the table, a dramatic spike in the problem, according to two new reports. Despite the recent uptick in the U.S. economy, an astonishingly large number of Americans – 9.6 million over the age of 60...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    July 1, 2015

Data sheds light on escalating medical costs

The prices that hospitals ask customers to pay for a series of common procedures have increased by more than 10 percent between 2011 and 2013 – more than double the rate of inflation, according to new data released recently by Medicare. But the...

 

Republican budget bill proposes marked changes in Medicare coverage

Check off “budget” on the Republicans “can govern” checklist. Congressional Republicans recently approved a budget bill, the first passed by Congress in six years, and the first since the party took control of both chambers earlier this...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    March 1, 2015

Supreme Court poised to rule on Obamacare: What it could mean for coverage and costs

For the second time in three years, the U.S. Supreme Court could determine the fate of the president’s health care law with a case coming up for oral arguments in March. While a limited number of seniors are covered under the health care law, a Cou...

 

Medicare rules, boondoggles and fraud fights

Medicare is like a government octopus, with its tentacles stretching into almost every aspect of senior life. With its policies affecting 50 million beneficiaries, this agency has a lot going on simultaneously. Sometimes, policies it puts in place...

 

Huge backlog result of broken Social Security bureaucracy

Last spring the nation was outraged when the enormous backlog of claims at the Veterans Administration was revealed. The number of claims stuck in processing for more than 125 days at that time was...

 

Medicare changes could limit ALS patients' coverage

Last summer’s viral “ice bucket challenge” focused attention and helped raise money for ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a disease that impairs motor function so people often can’t talk or even move. But while public attention...

 

High drug costs prompt calls for government price controls

Sovaldi, a new drug, which has been hailed as a breakthrough treatment for the 3.2 million Americans infected with hepatitis C, costs $1,000 a pill. While it is highly effective and has fewer side effects and takes less time than older therapies, it...

 

Debating Medicare coverage for smokers

Bipartisanship has surfaced, at least briefly, on Capitol Hill. More than 130 lawmakers, from both parties, are urging the Obama Administration to expand coverage for a lung-cancer test under...

 

New Medicare benefits you should know about - but probably don't

Dying patients may find it more difficult to get certain medications under new rules Medicare has recently put in place. Meanwhile, another set of rules could make it easier for seniors to get Medicare to pay for home health care services. Medicare h...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    May 1, 2014

Administration retreats on Part D changes

The White House, after an aggressive pushback from seniors, patients, pharmaceutical companies and lawmakers from both parties, recently scrapped most of a proposed plan to limit Medicare coverage for certain classes of drugs including those used to...

 

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