Tag Archives: Social Security Works

‘This Should Be a National Scandal’: For-Profit Medicare Advantage Plans Using AI for Denials

They’re using AI to predict when to cut off payment for treatments,” said one watchdog group. “We repeat, AI. Not a doctor.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 11-3-2023 by Common Dreams

Single payer protest in Baltimore, MD Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/CC

As Medicare Advantage plans rely increasingly upon artificial intelligence to determine—and often deny—payment for patient care, a group of Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Friday urged Medicare’s top official to strengthen oversight of AI and algorithmic tools used to make coverage determinations.

“In recent years, problems posed by prior authorization have been exacerbated by MA plans’ increasing use of AI or algorithmic software to assist in their coverage determinations in certain care settings, including inpatient hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health,” 32 House Democrats led by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Books LaSure.

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Trustees Report Shows Social Security Expansion a ‘Question of Values, Not Affordability’

“The trust funds are strong because most Americans contribute to them with every paycheck,” said one advocate. “They could be even stronger if the wealthiest Americans paid their fair share.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 3-31-2023 by Common Dreams

Rally at Minneapolis Social Security Office i August of 2012/ Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

The board of trustees for Medicare and Social Security released a report Friday showing the programs’ trust funds will be able to cover all benefits and expenses until 2031 and 2034 respectively, findings welcomed by advocates as further confirmation that the key lifelines are strong and can be expanded.

Nancy Altman, president of the progressive advocacy group Social Security Works, argued in a statement that “the takeaway from this report is that whether to expand or cut Social Security’s modest but vital benefits is a question of values, not affordability.” Continue reading

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Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

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‘Believe Him,’ Say Critics, as McCarthy Signals GOP Plan to Attack Social Security, Medicare

“The future of Social Security and Medicare is on the ballot this November,” said one advocate. “Republicans, led by Kevin McCarthy, are united in a plot to reach into our pockets and steal our money.”

By Julia Conley  Published 10-18-2022 by Common Dreams

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Progressives on Tuesday warned that U.S. voters should take House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans at their word when they threaten to enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare despite the cost-of-living crisis that already has Americans struggling to afford healthcare and other essentials.

In an interview with Punchbowl News Tuesday, the California Republican outlined plans to use the expected fight over the raising of the debt ceiling next year as leverage to pass several austerity policies and block additional aid for Ukraine, as well as blocking pandemic-related spending. Continue reading

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‘Good News for Seniors’: Becerra Orders Medicare to Reassess Premium Hike

“It is unconscionable,” said one advocate welcoming the announcement, “for Medicare premiums to increase this dramatically because of one corporation’s greed.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Pubished 1-10-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on January 10, 2022 that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

As the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium for 2022, healthcare reform advocates stressed the need for Congress to pass a Build Back Better bill with a provision allowing the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that he was instructing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “to reassess the recommendation for the 2022 Medicare Part B premium”—a hike that progressive critics said was largely the result of the pharmaceutical industry’s outrageous profiteering. Continue reading

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‘Reckless’ FDA and Big Pharma Greed Blamed for Medicare Premium Hike

“All Part B Medicare beneficiaries soon will be forced to bear significant financial burden as a direct result of the FDA’s reckless decision.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 11-16-2021 by Common Dreams

Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Screenshot: FDA

Medicare Part B recipients will soon be hit with one of the biggest premium increases in the history of the government program, a hike driven in large part by the Food and Drug Administration’s scandalous approval of a costly—and, according to many experts, dubious—Alzheimer’s drug.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that monthly Medicare Part B premiums will be raised to $170.10 in 2022, up from this year’s level of $148.50. Continue reading

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Democrats Urged to Reject Latest GOP Attempt to Hold Social Security ‘Hostage’

“Lindsey Graham and his fellow Republicans will stop at nothing to cut the American people’s earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2021

Senator Lindsey Graham. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday said he would be willing to vote to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for a policy that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a proposed trade-off that progressive advocacy groups implored Democrats to reject.

With members of Congress staring down an August deadline to increase the debt limit—the amount of money the federal government is legally permitted to borrow to meet its financial obligations—Graham (R-S.C.) told Bloomberg that he could bring himself to vote yes on a debt ceiling hike if Democrats agree to legislation establishing commissions tasked with crafting Social Security and Medicare “reforms.” Continue reading

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Trump Holdovers Accused of ‘Sabotaging’ Effort to Get Checks to 30 Million Social Security Recipients

“President Biden can’t stand for this any longer. He must protect Social Security beneficiaries by firing Saul and Black immediately.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-25-2021

Graphic: SocialSecurityWorks/Twitter

House Democrats and progressive activists are accusing the leadership of the Social Security Administration—currently headed by Trump holdover Andrew Saul—of slow-walking the Biden administration’s effort to distribute direct coronavirus relief payments to tens of millions of seniors and people with disabilities.

In a letter (pdf) to Saul on Wednesday, Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee raised alarm on behalf of “the nearly 30 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries who are still awaiting their economic impact payments (EIPs)”—checks approved under the recently passed American Rescue Plan. Continue reading

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Applause as Biden Withdraws ‘Horrific’ Trump Rule Attacking Social Security Disability Recipients

“Wonderful news,” said one activist.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-28-2021

Congress should address our nation’s looming retirement income crisis by increasing Social Security’s modest benefits. (Photo: Courtesy of AFGE, Flickr | CC 2.0)

Social Security defenders on Thursday celebrated news that the Biden White House has withdrawn a regulation pushed by the Trump administration that, if finalized, could have stripped disability insurance benefits from hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.

One of several attacks on Social Security the Trump administration attempted to complete during its final days in power, the proposed rule would have subjected some disability insurance recipients to more frequent eligibility reviews—a move that would have added another layer of difficulty to an already strenuous process aimed at determining whether beneficiaries still qualify for the program. Continue reading

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Confirming Progressive Warnings, Social Security Actuary Says Trump Payroll Tax Cut Would Effectively Destroy Program by 2023

“Trump’s disastrous plan to defund Social Security would eliminate retirement and disability benefits by 2023,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “That may make sense to the billionaires at Trump’s country club, but it makes zero sense to me.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-25-2020

Hundreds of union activists rally at the Minneapolis Social Security Field Office on Wednesday, August 27, 2014. (Photo: AFGE/Flickr/cc)

The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary estimated late Monday that eliminating the payroll tax would fully deplete Social Security’s disability and old-age trust funds by 2023, confirming the disastrous consequences progressive advocacy groups and lawmakers have been warning of since President Donald Trump threatened earlier this month to “terminate” the levy if reelected in November.

In a letter (pdf) to Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), SSA chief actuary Stephen Goss wrote that scrapping the payroll tax would “permanently” deplete the Disability Insurance trust fund by mid-2021 and the Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund by mid-2023 “with no ability to pay” the benefits afterward. Continue reading

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