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Seniors Save Big Thanks To ObamaCare

From USA Today:

By Kelly Kennedy

12/6/2011

WASHINGTON – More than 2.65 million Medicare recipients have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions this year, a $569-per-person average, while premiums have remained stable, the government plans to announce today.

That’s because of the provision of the health care law that put a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the “doughnut hole,” the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the drug benefit, also known as Part D.

And, as of the end of November, more than 24 million people, or about half of those with traditional Medicare, have gone in for a free annual physical or other screening exam since the rules changed this year because of the health care law.

“We’re very pleased with the numbers,” Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare, told USA TODAY. “We found the Part D premiums have also stayed constant, despite predictions that they would go up in 2012.”

The Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that 2012 Medicare prescription drug plan premiums would average about $30 a month, compared to $30.76 in 2011.

Starting this year, seniors who reach the doughnut hole in prescription benefits receive a 50% discount on name brand prescription drugs. Drug companies must provide the discount to participate in the prescription plan. Before the health care law took effect, Medicare patients had to pay full price for their prescriptions once they reached the gap in coverage.

The prescription data are through the end of October.

Seniors are becoming more engaged in their care, Blum said, citing the hundreds of forums Medicare has conducted about the changes. “The sentiment is that Medicare is trying to keep them healthy and out of the hospital,” Blum said. Continue reading

SCOTUS Sets Date For Obamacare Showdown

From Politico:

The Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments. | NIKO DUFFY/POLITICO

By JENNIFER HABERKORN

The health care showdown of 2012 has been scheduled.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear three days of oral arguments on various pieces of the health reform law on March 26, 27 and 28 — just days after the law’s two-year anniversary.

On Monday, March 26, the justices will hear one hour of debate on whether the Anti-Injunction Act prevents the court from ruling on the constitutionality of the law.

On Tuesday, March 27, the justices will hear two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the mandate, the centerpiece issue of the case.

On Wednesday, March 28, 90 minutes of argument will be held on which pieces of the law should fall if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, and an hour of argument will be held on whether the law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.

In November, the court indicated it would spread the arguments on the health law’s four issues over just two days. The suit was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Meet The New 1%: Healthcare CEOs Beat Out Bankers

From The Guardian:

Joel Gemunder, CEO Omnicare, had a total pay package in 2010 worth $98m.

No bankers in top 10 of America’s best-paid executives, but those in charge of healthcare and drugs firms are in the money.

By Dominic Rushe

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Pity Wall Street’s bankers. Once the highest-paid bosses in the land, they are now also-rans. The real money is in healthcare and drugs, according to the latest survey of executive pay.

There are no bankers in the top 10 of this year’s GMI survey of CEO pay. In fact, they have been out since 2007, when Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein competed for the top slot with Richard Fuld, boss of soon-to-be-bust Lehman Brothers, and Angelo Morzillo, head of Countrywide, once the largest sub-prime home loan firm.

With the bankers still recovering from their tussle with hubris, old age and infirmity were 2010’s boom businesses – at least in terms of pay. Leading the pack was John Hammergren, chief executive of McKesson Corporation. The firm’s 52-year-old chairman, chief executive and president took home $145,266,971 in 2010.

McKeeson is probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America, distributing a third of the medicines used in the US. McKeeson’s sales topped $112bn last year.

Hammergren’s next closest rival was Joel Gemunder, outgoing boss of Omnicare, where he had been president since 1981. Omnicare is a pharmacy company that dispenses drugs in nursing homes – among other services – and had sales of $6.15bn last year. When Gemunder started at the firm it had sales of $150m. His 2010 total pay package was worth $98,283,242.

CVS Caremark, which operates 7,000 pharmacies across the US, awarded chief executive Thomas Ryan $68,079,823 in 2010. Caremark’s share price was $71.70 on 1 May 1998, when Ryan joined the firm, and ended 2010 at $34.29. Continue reading

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