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President’s Forum 150 – The week of March 18-22 was a very good week for the NRLN
A Winner!

NRLN President’s Forum 
By Bill Kadereit

Sometimes our wins are small and they don’t always affect “me” but in our NRLN world, we appreciate every one of them. While this year Social Security and Medicare are at risk and while we have a battle to win protecting annuitized pensions with our de-risking reinsurance proposal, we should also celebrate small steps forward. 

  • A week ago, we emailed Social Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley that we had success in getting our proposal into law to modify the pension recoupment rules to protect plan participants.
  • Pension plan sponsors had been able to recoup pension dollars from retirees, sometimes 15–20 years after retirement, many times in $10,000 chunks and in one payment. 

We pointed out to the Commissioner that Congress amended the Secure 2.0 Act at the end of 2022 to incorporate many of our recommendations including: limiting the lookback period to three years, restricting the amount that can be recouped from monthly checks to 10% and extending the payback period instead of demanding it all in short periods of time. 


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NRLN Provides New “Report Card” Feature on Members of Congress.  Do your Senators or Representative support bills that help retirees?


NRLN Members Experienced Social Security Overpayment Clawback

Twenty-three NRLN members know that Social Security overpayment clawback can happen to anyone – because it happened to them. 

On March 11, 2024, the NRLN sent an email to all members requesting that anyone who has had to payback money to Social Security participate in the NRLN’s brief survey. The purpose of the survey was to support the NRLN’s efforts to change the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) regulation on overpayment clawback.

The NRLN sent letters to Congressional leaders in December and the new Social Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley earlier this month proposing that the existing SSA overpayments be waived when it was SSA’s fault and the current Social Security Code of Federal Regulations be replaced with statutory language similar to the NRLN’s proposal on pension recoupment that was enacted in the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022.
Since passage of SECURE 2.0, a company doesn’t have a fiduciary obligation to recoup; but if it does recoup it must be done within three years of initial overpayment and may not recoup more than 10% of the overpayment per year. 

In a statement issued March 20, Commissioner O’Malley said the agency would cease “the heavy-handed practice of intercepting 100% of an overpaid beneficiary’s monthly Social Security benefit” if they failed to respond to a demand for repayment. Instead, he added, the agency will limit the clawback to 10% of an overpaid beneficiary’s monthly benefit. Additionally, the SSA will extend repayment plans to 60 months, up from its prior limit of 36 months, giving recipients an additional two years to repay the money. 

The NRLN applauds Commissioner O’Malley’s actions. We will continue to advocate for the parts of our proposal not yet adopted by SSA.

I want to thank the 23 NRLN members who participated in our survey. Their responses provided valuable information into SSA’s handling of recovery of overpayment which in each of our members’ cases was through no fault of their own. 

This was a quick survey but the input is very useful. If others want to add to the pile, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SSAQ 

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network

Click button below for insights into what NRLN members experienced.

Bill Kadereit Quoted in Article on IBM Retiree’s Lawsuit

Bill Kadereit, President, NRLN

A November 19, 2023 article in The Register reported that George Adomavicius, who worked for IBM for 42 years before retiring in October 2020, has personally filed a lawsuit against his former employer claiming its recent healthcare benefit changes represents age discrimination.

Adomavicius chose to sue on his own rather than hiring an expensive lawyer, “To correct a wrong.” 

The alleged wrong is the employee benefits transition that IBM announced on September 14, 2022. The corporation shifted medical coverage for Medicare-eligible IBM retirees to a new IBM-sponsored Medicare Advantage program run by UnitedHealthcare, as of January 1, 2023.

As The Register previously reported, IBM’s health benefits transition angered some retirees because it withheld Health Reimbursement Arrangement/Account (HRA) subsidies – credited to retirees during their time at the company – from anyone who refused to select one of the two new Medicare Advantage plans and preferred to retain their traditional Medicare supplement plan.

Steve Bergeron, another former IBM employee, started a petition to convince the company to let retirees choose their healthcare plans without forcing the issue by denying HRA funds. He managed to collect more than 3,500 signatures though ultimately gave up, according to The Register article.

NRLN President Bill Kadereit told The Register that the NRLN has been involved in a similar health benefits transition with Tennessee Valley Authority retirees. After trying to convince the State of Tennessee and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicare, to intervene, the NRLN is seeking a statutory remedy with Congress.

The article reported that Kadereit argued this state of affairs is being allowed to happen by Congress to avoid tough decisions about how to deal with spiraling healthcare costs. And business accounts departments like it because there’s profit to be made.

“What Congress was trying to do is privatize Medicare. And the way they do that is to subsidize the insurance companies to put them in a market advantage, thus cannibalizing their own plan Medicare.

“And now Medicare Advantage plans have a 54 percent market share and their incurred cost per enrollee is nine percent higher than the old fee for service costs. So what Congress is doing is avoiding having to talk about taxes because it affects electability.”

Click here to read the article in The Register. 

President’s Forum 149 – Full Disclosure Medigap Pricing, New This Year!

Social Security and Medicare programs both continue to face significant financing issues according to the annual Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ report issued March 31, 2023.

Based on the Trustees’ best estimates, this year’s reports show that:

  • The Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund will be able to pay 100 percent of total scheduled benefits until 2033, one year earlier than reported last year. At that time, the fund’s reserves will become depleted and continuing program income will be sufficient to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
  • The Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund is projected to be able to pay 100 percent of total scheduled benefits through at least 2097, the last year of this report’s projection period. By comparison, last year’s report projected that the DI Trust Fund would be able to pay scheduled benefits through at least 2096, the last year of that report’s projection period.

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NRLN Grassroots Network is the name for having support from NRLN members to respond to Action Alerts plus having Region, State and Congressional District leaders to support the NRLN’s Washington, D.C. lobbying efforts.

House Republican Study Committee’s budget is a disaster for seniors

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In the News

The articles and opinion pieces below are for information and are not necessarily a reflection of the NRLN’s position on issues.

The NRLN is nonpartisan and its positions on retirement issues are presented in its Legislative Agenda and white papers that can be accessed from under the Legislative Agenda tab on the website main menu.

Medicare Advantage cuts may impact nursing homes By Sally Jones, Digital Marketing News – April 10, 2024

More Health Systems Likely to Drop Out of Medicare Advantage, Analyst Predicts By Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today – April 10, 2024

Home healthcare for elderly sees largest price increase ever By Alejandra O’connell-Domenech, The Hill Newspaper – April 10, 2024

Vivos Therapeutics’ Flagship CARE Oral Medical Devices Receive Full Approval for Medicare Reimbursement GlobeNewswire – April 9, 2024

Opinion: Medicare can follow blazed trails to revitalize Alzheimer’s care By Jakub Hlávka and Eugene Lin, The Hill Newspaper – April 9, 2024

Medicare Drug Price Negotiations: Policy Implications Of The First 10 Drugs’ Features HealthAffairs – April 9, 2024

Social Security Office of Inspector General warns of scammers posing as agents, seeking in-person meetings, cash KTVZ News – April 2024

America’s Social Security Timebomb By Aliss Higham, Newsweek – April 9, 2024

Lunchables found to contain relatively high lead levels By Miranda Nazzaro, The Hill Newspaper – April 9, 2024

Medicare Advantage Cuts Pressure Nursing Homes By Suzanne Blake, Newsweek – April 8, 2024

Your doctor or your insurer? Little-known rules may ease the choice in Medicare Advantage By Susan Jaffe, KFF Health News – April 8, 2024

Medicare Advantage rule finalizes independent appeals process, helping providers ‘stuck in the middle’ By Josh Henreckson, McKnights.com – April 8, 2024 

This hospital CEO is done playing nice with Medicare Advantage By Rylee Wilson, Hospital CFO Report – April 8, 2024

Examining High Drug Costs In America. What You Need To Know By Dr. Omer Awan, Forbes – April 8, 2024

Ten doctors on FDA panel reviewing Abbott heart device had financial ties with company By David Hilzenrath and Holly Hacker, FFF Health News – April 8, 2024

Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Rule Expanding Access to Care and Increasing Protections for People with Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D  Sierra Sun Times – April 5, 2024

It’s Past Time For An Upgrade To The Medicare Hospice Benefit By Cara L. Wallace and Stephanie P. Wladkowski, Health Affairs Forefront – April 5, 2024

Top GOP lawmaker believes he can ‘fix’ Social Security By Elizabeth Elkind, Fox News – April 7,2024

Opinion: America’s predatory retirement system is trapped in the Stone Age By Sid Mohasseb, The Hill – April 1, 2024

Seniors to Lose Some Benefits After Medicare Advantage Cuts By Alexander Fabino, Newsweek – April 3, 2024

‘We beat big pharma’: Biden applauds IRA, calls for expansion of Medicare negotiations By Nicole DeFeudis, EndPoint News – April 3, 2024

Social Security Reform Plan Proposed to Congress By Omar Mohammed, Newsweek – April 3, 2024

Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders push companies to cut cost of asthma inhalers, prescription drugs By Steve Holland and Nandita Bose, Reuters – April 3,2024

US takes next step in Medicare drug price negotiations with pharma companies Reuters – April 2, 2024

Most CFOs say collecting from Medicare Advantage is getting harder By Andrew Cass, Hospital CFO Report – April 2, 2024

Health Insurers Tumble as Final Medicare Advantage Rates Disappoint By John Tozzi, Bloomberg – April 1, 2024

Republicans warm to Social Security, Medicare reform as 2024 election nears By Elizabeth Elkind, Fox News – April 1, 2024

More On Raising The Social Security Retirement Age By Erik Sherman, Forbes – March 31, 2024

Opinion: Pharmacy middlemen are driving up costs for respiratory medicines — it’s time to act  By Tonya Winders, The Hill Newspaper – March 31, 2024

First Medicare Health Plans to Start Paying for Weight-Loss Drug Wegovy By Peter Loftus, The Wall Street Journal – March 28, 2024

CMS Proposes 4.1% Increase to Medicare Payments, While Expanding Monetary Penalties By Amy Stulick, Skilled Nursing News – March 28, 2024

Social Security Cuts Are In The News Again, But Still Wrong Way To Go By Christian Weller, Forbes – March 28, 2024

U.S. pension risk transfer transactions reached all-time high in 2023 — LIMRA  Rob Kozlowski, Pensions&Investments – March 28, 2024

Column: Social Security is again in the crosshairs of a GOP budget, even though a long-term fix would be simple By Michael Hiltzik, LA Times – March 27, 2024

Social Security to remove barriers to accessing SSI payments Urbana Daily Citizen – March 27, 2024

Biden, Trump keep it vague on looming Social Security insolvency crisis By Jeff Mordock, The Washington Times – March 25, 2024

House Republicans undermine Trump with call for $2.7 trillion in Social Security and Medicare cuts By Brett Arends, MarketWatch – March 23, 2024

Medicare Advantage chaos is making life more difficult for hospitals, insurers — and seniors By Janna Harron, Yahoo Finance – March 23, 2024

Biden signs $1.2 trillion spending package to keep government open By Brett Samuels, The Hill – March 23, 2024 

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