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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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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.

Saving Social Security and Medicare requires reform Times News – May 9, 2024

The 25 Most Popular Drugs by U.S. Spending By Rachel Nania, AARP – May 9, 2024

Senators propose new Medicare program that would offer incentive payments to combat drug shortages By Zoey Becker, Fierce Pharma – May 8, 2024

Pre-approval Plan Proposed for Medicare Advantage Insurers By Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today – May 8, 2024

Medicare Trustees warn of low physician payment By Susan Morse, Healthcare Finance – May 8, 2024

Drugmakers in Medicare negotiations spent more on shareholder payments and marketing than R&D last year: Report By Joseph Choi, The Hill Newspaper – May 8, 2024

The Biggest Problem With Social Security Is Congress  By Brenton Smith, Barron’s – May 8, 2024

If Medicare Covers Cataract Surgery, Why Are There Bills?  By Diane Omdahl, Forbes – May 7, 2024

Medicare Advantage pluses could be cut in 2025 By Gary Guthrie, Consumer Affairs – May 7, 2024

AHIP shares how enrollment in Medicare Supplement coverage has evolved By Victoria Bailey, HealthPayer.Com – May 7, 2024

Better news for Social Security and Medicare doesn’t mean their problems have gone away By Paul Brandus, MarketWatch – May 7, 2024

Medicare Program Suddenly Ending Leaves Seniors in Limbo By Suzanne Blake, Newsweek – May 7, 2024

Inflation Reduction Act’s Dirty Little Secret: Largest Premium Increase Ever for Medicare Drug Benefit By Joe White, Townhall – May 2, 2024

Choose Medicare Act would move us a step closer to universal healthcare

By Chris Graham, Augusta Free Press – May 2, 2024

CVS Health chops 2024 forecast as cost struggles with Medicare Advantage persist By Tom Murphy, Associated Press – May 1,2024

Millions of Americans May Get Their Medicare Advantage Benefits Cut By Suzanne Blake, Newsweek – May 1, 2024

Amazon, CVS, Walgreens And Walmart Push To Let Pharmacists Prescribe Drugs By Bruce Japsen, Forbes – May 1, 2024

Fraud, waste and abuse: How some doctors are exploiting Medicare and turning patients into ‘cash cows’ ABC News – April 30, 2024

Judge rejects J&J, Bristol Myers Squibb challenges to Medicare drug-price negotiations By Annika Kim Constantino, CNBC – April 29, 2024

FTC Chief Says Tech Advancements Risk Healthcare Price Fixing By Julie Rovner and David Hilzenrath, KFF Health News – April 29, 2024

Use of antipsychotic meds for older adults drops after warning letter from Medicare By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News – April 26, 2024

Opinion: The government can help people in need —and the Social Security Administration just proved it By David A. Weaver, The Hill Newspaper – April 26, 2024

More than 3 million Medicare patients could be eligible for coverage of Wegovy to reduce heart disease risks, study says By Annika Kim Constantino, CNBC – April 24, 2024

Medicare Stumbles Managing a Costly Problem – Chronic Illness By Phil Galewitz, KFF Health News – April 24, 2024 

Humana warns of tough times ahead for Medicare AdvantageWDRB.Com – April 24, 2024

Billionaire tax to bolster Social Security popular in swing states By Lauren Irwin, The Hill Newspaper – April 24, 2024

FTC looking to accelerate inquiry into prescription-drug middlemen, chair says By Eleanor Laise, MarketWatch – April 23, 2024

Biden administration sets higher staffing mandates. Most nursing homes don’t meet them By Jordan Rau, KFF Health News – April 23, 2024

3 big changes coming to Medicare in 2025—and what they’ll mean for you By Richard Eisenberg, Fortune – April 22, 2024

Social Security Chief Issues Update: ‘Crisis’ By Giulia Carbonaro, Newsweek – April 22, 2024

What Will Happen If The Social Security Trust Funds Run Out? By Steve Vernon, Forbes – April 20, 2024 

‘Where’s our damn money?”: Sen. Tommy Tuberville thinks Social Security is wasting taxpayer dollars. Here’s what’s really wrong — and what it might take to fix it By Lou Carlozo, Moneywise – April 20, 2024

New Medicare Card Scams on the Rise Los Angeles Times – April 19, 2024

Where Does Medicare Go From Here: Profit-Driven Chaos or Patient-Centered Community? By Matthew Cunningham-Cook, The American Prospect – April 19, 2024

Welcome to ‘peak boomer’ era: A wave of retirees is about to blow through their savings and cling to Social Security to stay afloat By Juliana Kaplan and Ayelet Sheffey, Business Insider – April 19, 2024

Medicare ignored expert advice to cut tests for transplant patients: Report By Cheyanne M. Daniels, The Hill Newspaper – April 19, 2024

What Happens to My Pension if My Company Goes Bankrupt? By Rachel Hartman. US News – April 19, 2024

UnitedHealth CEO Warns of 3-Year Medicare Squeeze By Allison Bell, Think Advisor – April 18, 2024

Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego Proposes Legislation to Increase Social Security COLAs for Seniors By Taylor Johnson, Hoodline – April 18, 2024

Social Security Update Expands Benefits Nationwide By Aliss Higham, Newsweek – April 18, 2024

Medicare’s push to improve chronic care attracts businesses, but not many doctors By Phil Galewitz and Holly K. Hacker, Kaiser Health News – April 17, 2024

CWA Union Fights Back Against So-Called Pension De-Risking By Teresa Ghilarducci, Forbes – April 17, 2024

Income tax isn’t the fast-rising monster. Medicare and employment taxes are growing faster By Scott Burns, The Dallas Morning News – April 16,2024

Improper Payments in Medicare and Medicaid: Who’s at Fault? By Joyce Frieden, Medpage Today – April 16, 2024

Opinion: Biden Shrinks Medicare Advantage Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal – April 14, 2024

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

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