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Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

Happy Holidays to our seniors. Here are a few of the benefits that the re-election of Obama has made possible for you:

The ‘Donut Hole’ is Being Eliminated: Seniors are responsible for a co-pay of their prescription drugs as well as for 100 percent of these medicines until they have paid an amount, known as the ‘gap,’ or ‘donut hole.’ This gap was projected to be $6,000 by the year 2020. Now, it will be totally eliminated by 2020. In 2010, Medicare recipients who hit the donut hole received a $250 rebate. In 2011, recipients received a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs, as well as a discount on generic drugs. (In New York for 2012, 126,907 seniors are projected to save an average of $663.)

Annual Wellness Visits are Now Free: There are no deductibles or co-payments for essential preventive care such as screenings for pelvic exams, pap smears, or diabetes or prostate cancer.

Hospital Stay Policy: Many times a patient will pick up a condition they did not have before being admitted to the hospital. The new policy will reduce payments to hospitals that are in the bottom 25 percent of patients contracting new health conditions after being admitted.

‘Readmissions Reduction Program’: If a patient is readmitted for the same or similar condition shortly after being discharged, the hospital will have a ‘payment adjustment’ from Medicare.

Purchase of Durable Medical Aids: The cost is reduced significantly by allowing competitive bidding for the purchase of items such as wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and nebulizers.

Support for Women: As of the policy renewal date on or after August 1, 2012, women will receive free preventive care for: wellness visits; gestational diabetes screening; ‘domestic and interpersonal’ violence screening and counseling; contraceptives as well as contraceptive education and counseling; breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling; HPV DNA testing (over age 29); sexually transmitted infections counseling; HIV screening and counseling; as well as mammograms, cholesterol screenings, and flu shots. (More info at www.healthcare.gov/prevention.)

Nursing Home Short-Term Medicare Coverage Progress Not Required: If a Medicare-covered patient has a chronic condition like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, or stroke, Medicare coverage will continue, even if no improvement is shown. The coverage is still limited to 100 days, and only if skilled nursing care is required, but improvement is no longer a part of the equation.

‘Extra Help’ Program: This is estimated to be worth about $4,000 a year. The program requires the person to be receiving Medicare, enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan, have Medicare Part A and/or Part B, no more than $26,120 in savings, investments, and real estate if living with a spouse, $13,070 if not married or not living with spouse.

Personal homes, vehicles, personal possessions, life insurance, or burial plots are not counted towards that amount.

Protection of Patients who are Gay, etc.: Hospitals (including the V.A.) are mandated to grant visitation rights to gay men and lesbians. In addition, medical decisions for partners will be easier to make.

Medicare Prescription Drug Premium: There will be no increase in the Medicare prescription drug premium for the third straight year, which is about $30 a month.

Community Health Centers: These centers provide comprehensive and quality primary health care to communities which are medically underserved. Their plan is provide support services like education, translation, and transportation to promote access to health care. These services are available to the entire community, with fees adjusted based upon the ability to pay. Of the $128.6 million in new grants, L’Refuah Medical and Rehabilitation Center, the only one in Brooklyn, received $650,000.

Congress is now trying to figure out how to pay for this. Any thoughts?

Tax Tip: CP-2000 for Individuals and Businesses: Although there have been a number of CP-2000 notices telling taxpayers that some information reported to the IRS is not shown on their 2011 tax returns, many more are scheduled to be sent out this month. Last year, the IRS sent about 4.7 million notices, of which about half were not correct. In addition to notices to individuals, this year many businesses will receive letters because their credit card sales are less than their reported gross sales. (Want more tax tips. Sign up at www.TaxHelp1040.com.)

Joseph Reisman, of Joseph S. Reisman & Associates, has been serving tax prep and business accounting expertise from his Coney Island Avenue office for more than 25 years. Check out the firm’s website.

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  • levp

    Congress is now trying to figure out how to pay for this. Any thoughts?

    Yes.
    http://costofwar.com/state/NY/county/kings-county/

    • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

      The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost a little over 3 trillion dollars if you factor in future payments to veterans. It is indeed a tremendous waste of money, I can’t argue with you. It could have paid for a lot of decent things.

      However, it doesn’t cover the future costs of Obama care, and is only 20% or less of the total current national debt. And if we’re talking about future obligations of Medicare and Social Security, which is in the vicinity of 60 trillion dollars (that discounted to present day), you’re NOT going to pay for these things by cutting war, and you’re NOT going to pay for these things by taxing the rich. You WILL gain political points, and votes however.

      Do you think I’ll ever see an editorial in ANY way ever, in the most minute way, critical of Obama? Is the opinion so completely unanimous??

      • levp

        I can’t answer the question about editorials, but I’m positive Ned would publish yours, should you decide to write one…

        Social Security (and Medicare) are not “entitlement” programs, as they are paid for by taxes that we pay all our (working) lives – look at your paycheck! So they are more like insurance rather than giveaway.

        And the rest of the people who either do not get private insurance from their employer, or get inadequate insurance – I agree, those losers should better stay healthy (or move to Canada).

        • http://profiles.google.com/kibbles Ann Marie Hughes

          Or drown in debt! If only I died in the ER that day, my financial problems would have been solved. :(

          • levp

            This reminds me, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) famously called your solution “the Republicans’ plan for health care”:

          • SmartCookie

            Alan Grayson became a target of right wing think tanks after that and lost his seat in congress but HE’S BACK, having regained his seat in the last election. karma

        • smartCookie

          actually SS and Medicare ARE “entitlement” programs… meaning we paid for them and we are ENTITLED to receive our benefits from them. the problem is that the meaning of the word entitlement has been altered (by the right) to mean ‘free stuff’ which, as you point out, it isn’t

          • levp

            Well, if you put it that way… LOL I fell into a trap of redefined words (entitlement programs are bad, “Clear Skies Act” is good, etc.)

            (edited to correct the Bush’s law name)

          • levp

            Originally hit “Post” too soon, so note the edit…

      • reality exists

        you forgot to factor in the brilliant Bush/Republican idea on how to pay for that war on Iraq… TAX CUTS and more tax cuts and then even more tax cuts… and those were on top of an unpaid for prescription drug addition to medicare. Funny that ending these ill thought out tax cuts that were ALWAYS supposed to sunset is now an unthinkable tax hike on the very wealthy and that there was absolutely NO discussion, when they were enacted, on how we would pay for the loss of revenue from those ill thought out tax cuts or how the drug program was going to be paid for or WHY those on the right refused to vote for the drug program unless and until the part about allowing medicare to negotiate a better Bulk Price was removed from the bill. but NOW the republicans hair is on fire at the thought of a tax hike (only) on income above 250,000 and the modernization of America’s healthcare system.

      • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

        Just want to point out that the cost of Obamacare (which was the question raised in the article and which spurred this comment thread) is largely already addressed:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/30/how-congress-paid-for-obamacare-in-two-charts/

        Not only that, but it appears Obamacare will REDUCE the deficit and the overall amount we spend on healthcare:

        http://www.philly.com/philly/health/Budget_office_Obamas_health_law_reduces_deficit.html (BTW- it was Boehner who requested the CBO report)

        And that doesn’t even take into consideration that preventative care is more affordable than emergency care, and so insuring people leads to less emergency care spending and thus saves money.

        Finally, your assertion that our future obligations of Medicare and SS amount to $60 trillion is woefully misinformed. It was estimated to be $63+ trillion over 75 years based on outdated info. As of 2010 data, that number has been approximately halved, and no one considers it very wise to project such data out over 75 years, either.

        http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2011/may/23/frank-wolf/rep-frank-wolf-says-us-has-over-62-trillion-unfund/

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