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Details about 2017 COLA

The 0.3% Cost of Living Adjustment to Social Security checks in 2017:

“In dollars and cents, it means the average retired beneficiary’s check will rise about $5 to $1,360 per month in 2017.

“The even more bitter pill: Many current Medicare beneficiaries won’t be able to spend any of that extra money. Instead, they’ll likely have to send their COLA straight back to Uncle Sam to cover higher Medicare Part B premiums.

“Almost a third of Medicare’s 56 million beneficiaries could see their premiums jump 22% next year, according to the Medicare Trustees Report, putting the cost at an estimated $149 per month. Those unlucky 30% of beneficiaries include people enrolling in Part B for the first time in 2017, people who are on Medicare but who aren’t currently taking Social Security benefits and current enrollees who pay an income-related higher premium.

“The remaining 70% of Medicare beneficiaries — now paying $104.90 per month — could see a “small increase” in Part B premiums, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projects. Part B deductibles are also expected to rise, to $204 in 2017, up from $166 this year. The CMS is expected to disclose Part B premiums later this or next month.

“The unequal sharing of higher Medicare costs has to do with how Social Security law is structured, capping premium increases for 70% of current recipients based on the COLA amount and leaving the remaining 30% of people to cover pick up the tab. It’s a system that has its critics.

“The people who get treated badly are new retirees and high-income retirees, who don’t get protected by the hold harmless provision,” says Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.”  Source: USA Today

Social Security COLA Announced

The Cost of Living adjustment for Social Security income has been announced.  It is a 0.3% increase beginning in January 2017.

“Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, noted that 2017 will mark the seventh time in the last eight years that the COLA adjustment has been below 2 percent. There was no adjustment for three of those years.

“’Unfortunately, for the average retiree this increase will only amount to a few dollars,’ said Weatherford in a statement.  ‘We know from our annual study on the Baby Boomer generation that six in 10 boomers are expecting Social Security to be a major source of income in retirement. Given what we know, it will be imperative for boomers and subsequent generations to develop plans now to ensure they have sufficient savings to supplement Social Security benefits to meet their needs in retirement.'”

Source: Benefits Pro


Judge Splits Anthem Cigna into Two

“In an effort to expedite her decision, the federal judge overseeing the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust challenge to Anthem and Cigna’s $53 billion merger will split the trial in two.

“U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told the government and insurers on Tuesday that she will hear testimony about the massive merger’s impact on national markets in late November before turning her attention to DOJ’s concerns about local markets in December.

“By splitting the trial, Jackson could hand DOJ a quick win if they show adequate harm during the first two weeks of testimony.

“Opening arguments are set for Nov. 21, with national market testimony wrapping up by Dec. 2. The trial will take a one-week hiatus before returning to discuss local market issues, according to Jackson’s order.”

Source: Modern Healthcare. Erica Teichert.

FDA Warning: Homeopathic Teething Products

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against homeopathic teething tablets and gels, recommending that consumers cease letting infants and children use the products because they pose health risks.

“Homeopathic teething tablets and gels are readily available online and in retail stores but have not been proven to offer any health benefits, said the agency.

“‘Teething can be managed without prescription or over-the-counter remedies,’ said Dr. Janet Woodcock, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director of the FDA.

“Reports of adverse effects after use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels are being investigated by the FDA and more information will be provided to the public once available.

“Parents and guardians are advised to seek medical attention immediately if a child experiences agitation, difficulty urinating, constipation, skin flushing, muscle weakness, excessive sleepiness, lethargy, difficulty breathing or seizures after using a homeopathic teething tablet or gel.”  Source: Family Medicine Smart Brief

– See more at: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/180469/20161002/fda-warns-against-homeopathic-teething-tablets-gels-for-babies.htm#sthash.RIkqmcJJ.dpuf