Zika Virus

Zika 101

Summary:
The Zika virus is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitos. About 1 in 5 people who get infected with Zika virus will show symptoms.

In the past several weeks, increased cases of Zika virus disease (Zika) have been reported in South and Central America, and to a limited degree in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a US territory, and the US Virgin Islands.  Zika is a little known illness spread by a certain type of mosquito. Although most people who may be exposed to Zika virus will have only mild or no symptoms, there has been evidence linking Zika virus to negative effects on pregnancies in some cases, which has received widespread public attention. We understand that this news is concerning, especially to pregnant women and their families who may travel to or live in affected areas. Here are some answers to common questions about Zika.

What is Zika?

The Zika virus is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitos. About 1 in 5 people who get infected with Zika virus will show symptoms. Most of those who get sick experience only mild symptoms that last about a week. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes (conjunctivitis). It’s rare for someone infected with Zika to become seriously sick or die. Zika is not spread through routine direct person-to-person contact.

Zika and Pregnancy

While anyone can be infected with Zika, what makes it stand out from other mosquito-borne illnesses, is the effect it appears to have on pregnancy. We know that Zika can spread from a pregnant mother to her baby, and that infection during pregnancy may be linked to birth defects, such as a condition called microcephaly (when a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with babies of the same sex and age). Our understanding of the link between Zika and pregnancy is evolving.

Because of the possible risk to unborn babies, CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant consider postponing travel to areas with local Zika transmission. If you are pregnant and must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites. As we learn more about this disease, our guidance may change based on new information important for the public to know.

How to Protect Yourself from Zika

Because there are currently no vaccines or treatment for Zika, the best way to protect yourself is to prevent mosquito bites. You can do this by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and treating your clothing and other items with permethrin. Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellant as directed. You shouldn’t use insect repellant on babies younger than 2 months of age; instead, dress your baby in clothing that covers arms and legs and cover the crib, stroller, or baby carrier with mosquito netting.

If you’ve recently traveled to an area with Zika and develop a rash, joint pain, or red eyes, tell your doctor that you traveled to a country with Zika virus. Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to dengue and chikungunya, special blood tests may be needed.

If you get sick with Zika, make sure to get plenty of rest and fluids, and take medicines like acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain. Don’t take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. You can also prevent others from getting sick by avoiding mosquito bites during the first week of illness following the same steps outlined above, because Zika virus can stay in the blood during the first week of infection.

Zika in the Continental US?

Although Zika has been in the news recently, outbreaks of Zika have previously been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert for the first confirmed infection in Brazil. Since then, local transmission of Zika virus has been reported in more than 20 other countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika are found throughout the tropics, outbreaks of the disease will likely continue.

Zika is currently not found in the continental United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers. Because of the recent outbreaks in the Americas, we expect to see more cases of Zika in travelers visiting or returning to the United States. Many areas in the continental U.S., primarily in the Southeast and Gulf Coast regions, have mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus, so it is possible that these imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. Limited local transmission may occur in the mainland United States, but we believe it is unlikely that we will see widespread transmission of Zika in the mainland United States. Recent outbreaks in the United States of chikungunya and dengue were quite small compared with outbreaks in South America.

For more: http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2016/01/28/zika-101.html

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Centers For Disease Control & PreventionCDC.gov

 

 

WHO Director-General summarizes the outcome of the Emergency Committee on Zika

WHO statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

1 February 2016

 

I convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Committee met today by teleconference.

In assessing the level of threat, the 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications.

The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.

The experts also considered patterns of recent spread and the broad geographical distribution of mosquito species that can transmit the virus.

The lack of vaccines and rapid and reliable diagnostic tests, and the absence of population immunity in newly affected countries were cited as further causes for concern.

After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world.

In their view, a coordinated international response is needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread.

Members of the Committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

For more: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika-microcephaly/en/

#Zika

Child Hunger in America

Child Hunger in America

Building on the Administration’s ongoing commitment to expanding access to opportunity and reducing food insecurity, the event brought together families, academics, practitioners, advocates, religious leaders, and federal, state, and local officials to discuss the persistence and effects of hunger in America and what must be done to ensure all American families have access to an adequate, nutritious diet.

Today, the White House will host a conversation about child hunger in America, with experts and direct service providers discussing how hunger continues to harm children across the country. Participants will discuss the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other core nutrition programs in ensuring American children have the fuel they need to thrive. The conversation will include SNAP recipients, academics, direct service providers, advocates, faith leaders, and federal, state, and local officials and will focus on the critical role of SNAP in reducing food insecurity and poverty, and the high-cost consequences when benefits are not enough to sustain a family to the end of the month.  The agenda for today’s event is available HERE.

The Obama Administration is dedicated to ensuring American children and families have the support they need to build a better future, especially when weathering life’s ups and downs, such as loss of a job, illness, or work that pays less than a livable wage. SNAP and other nutrition programs, like school meals, make a real and measurable difference in the lives of children and their families and provide a stronger future for the entire country. Building on its commitment to expanding access to opportunity for all, today the Obama Administration will announce additional actions to ensure American children have the food they need to grow, learn, and succeed.

NEW FEDERAL ACTIONS

  • Ensuring all low-income children have year-round access to the food they need to learn and grow. 
  • Allowing States to use Medicaid data to automatically link low-income children to school meals. 

For the entire article: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/27/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-major-investments-preventing

 

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A White House Conversation on Child Hunger in America

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Agenda

1:00 PM
Opening Remarks
Secretary Thomas Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture

1:20 PM
Panel: Research Evidence on Child Hunger in America and the Role of SNAP

  •  Moderator: Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika, Emeritus Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  •  Dr. Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California Berkeley
  •  Dr. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research; Associate Professor, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy
  • Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Professor of Epidemiology, Director, Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health, University of Washington
  •  Dr. Hilary Seligman, Associate Professor, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; Lead Scientist and Senior Medical Advisor, Feeding America
  • Dr. Parke Wilde, Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

2:45 PM
Break

3:00 PM
Panel: Practitioner and Beneficiary Perspectives on SNAP, Hunger, and Children’s Life Outcomes

  • Moderator: Representative Jim McGovern (MA)
  •  Dr. Sandra Hassink, Immediate Past President of the American Academy
     of Pediatrics
  •  Dawn Pierce, former SNAP recipient, Boise, ID
  •  Clint Mitchell, Principal, Bel Air Elementary School, Prince William County, V
  •  Carlos Rodriguez, Executive Director, Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean
    Counties, Neptune, NJ
  •  Les Johnson, Vice President of Grant Management Services, Area Resources for
    Community and Human Services, St. Louis, MO

4:15 PM
Closing remarks
Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of Domestic Policy Council

January 27, 2016 – 1:00 PM ET
A White House Conversation on Child Hunger in America
The White House

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Live Stream: WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

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Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act

Medicare Medicaid 50th

December 28, 2015

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 1321, S. 2425

On Monday, December 28, 2015, the President Obama signed into law:

S. 2425, the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act,” which makes changes to Medicare payments for certain complex rehabilitation technology and radiation therapy services, provide flexibility in applying a hardship exception from meaningful use of electronic health records, and improve Medicare and Medicaid program integrity.

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Radiation Therapy Alliance Commends Congress for Passing Legislation to Ensure Access to Radiation Therapy Care for Nation’s Cancer Patients

Legislation is essential step to achieving lasting payment stability for needed cancer care services

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Radiation Therapy Alliance (RTA) – a non-profit organization representing freestanding radiation therapy centers that is dedicated to working with policymakers to advance logical, predictable payment reform to ensure patient access to quality cancer care – today commended lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for passing the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (S. 2425).

The legislation provides payment stability to freestanding radiation therapy centers by freezing Medicare payment rates for the sector in 2017 and 2018 as it transitions to a new, episodic alternative payment model in 2019.  The legislation also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit to Congress a report on the development of an episodic alternative payment model for payment under the Medicare program within 18 months.

The RTA thanked Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dan Coats (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representatives Tom Price (R-GA), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), James Clyburn (D-SC), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jim McDermott (D-WA) for their leadership in advancing this vital cancer care legislation.

“The RTA applauds Congress for passing this critical legislation which will ensure patient access to freestanding radiation therapy services across the country,” said Christopher M. Rose, MD, FASTRO, RTA Policy Chair. “Consistent with the legislation, we look forward to working with CMS to craft an Alternative Payment Model for radiation oncology that will ensure access while improving the efficiency and quality of care to Medicare patients.”

Freestanding radiation therapy centers offer patients access to treatments for prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting closer to home, removing the burden of traveling to distant hospitals or specialty centers.

For more: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/radiation-therapy-alliance-commends-congress-for-passing-legislation-to-ensure-access-to-radiation-therapy-care-for-nations-cancer-patients-300195540.html

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Congress Simplifies MU Hardship Exemption Process
AAFP Strongly Supported New Legislation

December 22, 2015 03:42 pm – AAFP

Congress provided a bit of end-of-the year cheer to America’s physicians on Dec. 18 when the U.S. House and Senate passed the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act(www.congress.gov) with the AAFP’s strong support.

The bill includes a provision that gives CMS the authority — for the next few months — to expedite applications from physicians for a hardship exemption related to meaningful use stage two requirements for the 2015 calendar year.

The expedited “categorical authority” applies only to hardship exemption applications filed before March 15, 2016. Stay tuned for more information on the application process as it becomes available from CMS.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and is widely expected to be signed by the President.

“This heralds a reprieve to physician practices that are unable to successfully attest to meaningful use for 2015, through no fault of their own,” said AAFP President Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., in a Dec. 21 statement about the legislation.

Passage of the bill is important to many family physicians because under current law, physicians participating in the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs(www.federalregister.gov) must attest to meeting meaningful use stage two requirements for 90 consecutive days in 2015.

For more: http://www.aafp.org/news/government-medicine/20151222muexemption.html

Obamacare Sign-Ups Reach 8.3 Million in 2015

December 23, 2015 By Zachary Tracer – insurancejournal

About 8.3 million people have signed up for health coverage through Obamacare’s U.S.-run shopping markets this year, the U.S. said Tuesday, surpassing last year’s total and signaling good news for hospital and health insurance companies.

At about the same point in the enrollment period last year, 6.4 million people had signed up. The U.S. report counts enrollees for 2016 coverage as of Dec. 19 in 38 states that use the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. It’s the most comprehensive accounting since a Dec. 17 deadline for people to pick coverage that begins at the start of 2016.

Sign-ups this year are an important indication of how President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul is faring ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

For more: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/12/23/392935.htm

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Medicare, Medicaid turns 50

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration for these programs, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is collecting stories of how Medicare and Medicaid have made a difference for everyday Americans.

Please visit Medicare.gov/anniversary/share-your-story to share your Medicare or Medicaid story.

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#Medicare & #Medicaid

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HHS Pharmaceutical Forum

HHS Pharmaceutical ForumHHS Pharmaceutical Forum: Innovation, Access, Affordability and Better Health

Modern medicine, including new pharmaceuticals that cure or help combat life threatening diseases, continues to deliver significant benefits for patients.  And in general, the development of new, innovative medicines has been good for both patients and our economy. However, the high and growing cost of drugs has created hardship for families, employers, and states. Specialty medications represent only 1% of all prescriptions but, in 2014, these medications resulted in over 31% of all drug spending.

Secretary Burwell is asking stakeholders to share information as to how to address this complex problem. The forum will bring together consumers, providers, employers, manufacturers, health insurance issuers, representatives from state and federal government, and other stakeholders to share information and discuss ideas to increase access to information, drive innovation, strengthen incentives and promote competition.  We seek your views on how to foster a health care system that leads in innovation, delivers the most affordable, highest quality medicines and results in healthier people.

During the forum, we will hear from a broad range of stakeholders on opportunities to improve patient access to affordable prescription drugs, develop innovative purchasing strategies and incorporate value-based and outcomes-based models into purchasing programs in both the public and private sectors.

We acknowledge this is a multi-faceted problem with no one solution, but there is a significant benefit – to all of us – of working together to find a solution.

For more: http://www.hhs.gov/hhspharmaceuticalforum

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US Dept. Human Health Services
Pharmaceutical Forum
November 20, 2015
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET

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Live Stream: http://www.hhs.gov/live-1/

#RxAccess

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Pres. Obama hosts Prescription Drug Abuse Community Discussion

Exec Office - Office of Natl Drug Control Policy

Prescription drug abuse is the Nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.1 The same survey found that over 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives, while approximately 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or from the Internet.2 Additionally, the latest Monitoring the Future study—the Nation’s largest survey of drug use among young people—showed that prescription drugs are the second most-abused category of drugs after marijuana.3 In our military, illicit drug use increased from 5 percent to 12 percent among active duty service members over a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, primarily attributed to prescription drug abuse.

Souce:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/policy-and-research/rx_abuse_plan.pdf

Drug Policy Reform

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
President Obama hosts a community discussion on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic
East End Family Resource Center, Charleston, West Virginia

#DrugPolicyReform

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Social Security Act of 1935 – 80th Anniversary

Soc Sec 80th icon

In the United States, Social Security is primarily the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) federal program. The original Social Security Act (1935) and the current version of the Act, as amended, encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs. Social Security is funded through payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA) and/or Self Employed Contributions Act Tax (SECA). Tax deposits are collected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and are formally entrusted to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, or the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund which make up the Social Security Trust Funds. With a few exceptions, all salaried income, up to a specifically determined amount by law (see tax rate table below) has an FICA and/or SECA tax collected on it.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_(United_States)

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The Obama Administration’s Agenda on Seniors & Social Security

“To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”

-PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, JANUARY 25, 2011
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Social Security Timeline: http://www.ssa.gov/history/1930.html

Learn more about Social Security: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/

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Medicare, Medicaid turns 50

Medicare Medicaid 50th


The Social Security Amendments of 1965Pub.L. 89–97, 79 Stat. 286, enacted July 30, 1965, was legislation in the United States whose most important provisions resulted in creation of two programs: Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation initially provided federal health insurance for the elderly (over 65) and for poor families.

History Many politicians were involved in drafting the final bill that was introduced to the United States Congress in March 1965. On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) signed the bill into law.

The concept of national health insurance began in the early 20th century in the United States and then came to prominence during the Truman administration. Between 1958 and 1964, controversy grew and a bill was drafted. The signing of the act, as part of Johnson’s Great Society, began an era with a greater emphasis on public health issues. Medicare and Medicaid became the United States’ first public health insurance programs. The legislation was vigorously opposed by the American Medical Association until it had been enacted, following which the AMA cooperated in its implementation.

In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt included social insurance for sickness in the platform of his Progressive Party (United States, 1912). Around 1915 the group American Association for Labor Legislation attempted to introduce a medical insurance bill to some state legislatures. These attempts were not successful, and as a result controversy about national insurance came about. National groups supporting the idea of government health insurance included the AFL-CIO, the American Nurses AssociationNational Association of Social Workers, and the Socialist Party USA. The most prominent opponent of national medical insurance was the American Medical Association (AMA); others included the American Hospital Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Life Insurance Association of People.

Previous administrations

In 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) signed the Social Security Act, medical benefits were left out of the bill. The committee that Roosevelt appointed to study issues related to Social Security wanted to include health insurance in the bill. However, the committee was concerned that amending the bill to include health insurance would kill the entire bill. Harry Truman took on the idea of national medical care and tried to integrate it into his Fair Deal program. Truman’s attempts were also unsuccessful, though during his presidency the fight for national medical care became specific to the aged population.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Act_of_1965

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Medicare, Medicaid turns 50

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration for these programs, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is collecting stories of how Medicare and Medicaid have made a difference for everyday Americans.

Please visit Medicare.gov/anniversary/share-your-story to share your Medicare or Medicaid story.

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Social Security Timeline: http://www.ssa.gov/history/1930.html

Learn more about Social Security: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/

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The 2015 White House Conference on Aging

THE 2015 WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON AGING

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The White House held the Conference on Aging to discuss key programs as well as to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade. In the past, conference processes were determined by statute with the form and structure directed by Congress through legislation authorizing the Older Americans Act. To date, Congress has not reauthorized the Older Americans Act, and the pending bill does not include a statutory requirement or framework for the 2015 conference.

THE ISSUES

The face of America is growing older and more diverse as the first baby boomers reached retirement age in 2011, accelerating a population surge in the number of Americans over the age of 65. Each day for the next 15 years, thousands more will reach retirement age, creating new opportunities for how we define what it means to be an older American. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging provided an opportunity to listen to older Americans and engage with the American public about strategies to continue to maximize the contributions of older Americans to our country.

* RETIREMENT SECURITY
* HEALTHY AGING
* LONG-TERM SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
* ELDER JUSTICE

Learn more: http://whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov/

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On the Horizon: The 2015 White House Conference on Aging

Cecilia Muñoz July 29, 2014 01:25 PM EDT

Today at the White House, I was delighted to host a roundtable discussion with leaders from across the aging community who came together to discuss the White House Conference on Aging, which will take place in 2015 – the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

Just yesterday, the Medicare Trustees released their annual report finding that, since their report last year, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by four additional years to 2030. When this Administration first took office, the Trust Fund was projected to go bankrupt more than a dozen years sooner, in 2017. The Trustees also project that – for the second year in a row – Part B premiums will not increase, allowing seniors to keep more of their Social Security cost-of-living increase.

Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, we have improved the affordability of the program, while at the same time helping Medicare work better for seniors. For example, we are closing the prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole” to make medications more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries. Just today, we learned that 8.2 million seniors and people with disabilities saved $11.5 billion since 2010 – over $1,000 on average for people hitting the donut hole. Additionally, Medicare now provides coverage without cost-sharing for many preventive benefits to help keep older Americans healthy. The Affordable Care Act also responds to older Americans’ desire to remain independent in their communities by creating incentives for states to provide the services and supports that help people remain at home as they age.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/07/29/horizon-2015-white-house-conference-aging

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