by Art Kelly
1. Open enrollment in Medicare will begin earlier and end earlier this year.
In a news release, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare recipients will be able to make changes in their coverage during the seven-week period from Saturday, October 15, 2011 to Wednesday, December 7, 2011.
Last year's open enrollment was from November 15 through December 31.
According to CMS, "The new open enrollment period will better ensure that individuals have their membership cards in hand and receive uninterrupted health care coverage on January 1, 2012."
Seniors should receive their 2012 Medicare & You handbook by late September.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced that Medicare Advantage premiums will be 4% lower in 2012 than they were in 2011.
Information about Medicare open enrollment is online at http://www.cms.gov/center/openenrollment.asp
In near-identical statements, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D., praised Obamacare, which they called the Affordable Care Act.
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is stronger than ever," Sebelius said.
"Due to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage and prescription benefits are stronger than ever," Berwick said.
Despite the steady stream of government-funded propaganda in support of Obamacare, as they say in the south, "That dog won't hunt." Polls over the last 18 months have consistently shown intense support for repeal of the President's health care legislation.
The latest Rasmussen Reports found 56% of the voters are in favor of repealing Obamacare, with 44% who feel strongly about it. 36% are opposed to repealing the law, with 26% who feel strongly about it.
2. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has proposed new rules to expand the rights of patients to access their health information through the use of information technology.
The new rules would allow patients to gain access to test results directly from labs.
"When it comes to health care, information is power. When patients have their lab results, they are more likely to ask the right questions, make better decisions, and receive better care," Sebelius said in a news release.
The proposed rule, on which citizens may submit comments, is online at
3. Vice President Joe Biden has announced a new initiative to cut $2.1 billion in waste and fraud from Medicaid.
"If we're going to spur jobs and economic growth and restore long-term fiscal solvency, we need to make sure hard-earned tax dollars don't go to waste," Biden said in a news release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius added, "We simply can't afford to see even one penny of our health care dollars wasted and expanding this program will help us reach that goal."
A fact sheet on the the Medicaid Recovery Audit Program is online at
It is possible this initiative was inspired in part by an undercover operation from Project Veritas that documented massive fraud in 18 state Medicaid offices. Videos were secretly recorded of actors who portrayed persons who were clearly not indigent seeking to apply for Medicaid benefits.
A previous issue of this newsletter reported, "In every single one of the 18 offices, the Medicaid applications were unhesitatingly processed."