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Articles written by Alan M. Schlein

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Student load debt is a crisis for seniors

If you think America's college loan crisis – with more than $1.5 trillion worth of debt – is only a young person's problem, think again. The federal government is now garnishing the fixed-income Social Security benefits of seniors in its...

 

Old is the new young on Capitol Hill

The old baseball star Satchel Paige is supposed to have said: Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it does not matter. On Capitol Hill, old seems to be the new young. In the House of Representatives, the top three leaders are...

 

Weighing Social Security policies and politics

Congressional Democrats are pushing an ambitious plan to expand Social Security and put it on a sustained long-term footing in an effort to overturn 20 years of attempts by congressional Republicans to scale back entitlement programs like Medicare...

 

Washington Watch: High pill prices are hard to swallow

House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the Trump administration agree on one thing – that drug prices must be lowered. Both parties are working through the ideas to reduce prescription drug costs, but the problem is finding common ground and...

 

New Congress has an ambitious health care agenda, but can they accomplish anything?

When the next Congress begins its work in January, lawmakers from both parties will try to work with the Trump administration to pass vital health care legislation. But getting a political advantage...

 

Still trying to fix the donut hole

The formidable pharmaceutical industry wants to recoup the $11.8 billion hit it took earlier this year in Congress’s 2018 budget deal. The drugmakers rarely lose, able to use clout and pressure in every House and Senate district to get what they...

 

The pros and cons of 'Right to Try' legislation

Congress managed to pass well-intentioned legislation recently allowing people with life-threatening illnesses to bypass the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain experimental medications. Unfortunately, it won’t do much to help the people...

 

President announces focus on high drug pricing

Drug prices in the United States are too high – nearly everyone agrees. But political consensus stops at how to lower prices and fix the problem. If it were easy, a simple solution would be found. But paying for prescription drugs is a complicated...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    May 1, 2018

Federal budget woes and wins for seniors

Lawmakers defend the federal budget, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump at the end of March, by repeating a quotation attributed to Otto von Bismarck: "If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    April 1, 2018

Electronic health records – Stuck in the 1990s?

Recently I needed some medical records sent from my previous doctor to a new specialist. I was stunned when this thoroughly modern medical practice told me the only way they could send them quickly was with a fax machine. When was the last time you...

 

New Medicare cards are coming in April

Your new Medicare ID card will be arriving the old-fashioned way, via the US Postal Service. If you barely glance at your mail before you throw it in the garbage because of a deluge of junk mail, be on the lookout for this one. Starting in April and...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    March 1, 2018

Rewriting the rules and regs – guess who bears the brunt

The frenetic pandemonium of Donald Trump’s first year as president has overshadowed his administration’s efforts through executive orders and regulation changes to reshape American life. Stymied by his failure to win congressional approval for...

 

Will cuts be needed to offset tax reductions?

With the tax bill signed into law, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has set his sights on reforming Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and welfare in 2018. But he will have to overcome several big barriers to be successful, including reversing...

 

Which way HHS if Alex Azar is confirmed?

In the nation’s capital, where politicians are always wearing partisan political jerseys, the nomination of Alex Azar to be the new Health and Human Services Secretary may offer the hope of a fresh start on health care issues. President Trump’s...

 

Nursing home storms come in many forms

The Trump administration is planning to end another Obama-era regulation involving nursing homes, which was designed to shield the elderly from unscrupulous, abusive or bad nursing home practices. At the end of the Obama administration, the Centers f...

 

Nursing home abuse is vastly under-reported

More than 25 percent of possible sexual and physical abuse cases against nursing home patients were not reported to police, warns a new government audit. The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office issued an unusual “early alert...

 

Congress is proposing major changes for Medicare and Social Security

If you thought the bitter partisan fight over the “repeal and replace” of President Obama’s health care law was ugly, ratchet up the intensity – the next fight over Trump’s budget, including sweeping changes to Medicare, is about to start,...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    August 1, 2017

States lag in keeping Medicaid enrollees out of nursing homes

Every day, 10,000 people turn 65 and the eldest baby boomers will begin to turn 80 in 2026, so the demand for long term care services is about to explode in the near future. Already 1.4 million seniors live in nursing home facilities in the U.S. But...

 
 By Alan M. Schlein    News    July 1, 2017

Greed and fraud vs. Medicare: A few changes could roll back abuse

Warning: This story may raise your blood pressure. For sure, it raises troubling questions about the U.S. government’s ability to manage a medical bureaucracy. Medicare, the government insurance program that provides health care to 55 million...

 
 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...

 

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