Wednesday, February 26, 2014

$250,000 Makes You Middle-Class, But $47,000 Makes You Rich.

Although chained CPI will not be in the initial White House budget (although the White House is still open to a "grand bargain"), Obama is still pushing for increased cost shifting/means-testing in Medicare. The same AP report that gave us the former information gave us the latter as well.

In Reuters today, Mark Miller discussed what these Medicare cuts would do:
Meanwhile, advocates for seniors are waiting to learn if the Administration - or Republicans in Congress - will again serve up proposals from last year's budget that would shift a greater share of Medicare costs to beneficiaries, including:
- Higher deductibles: The Part B annual deductible, currently $147, would be boosted for new enrollees in three $25 increments, for a total of $75 by 2021.
- Higher home health charges: New beneficiaries would pay $100 for five or more home health visits that weren't preceded by a hospital stay or nursing home.
- Medigap surcharge. New beneficiaries who buy supplemental Medigap policies with first-dollar coverage would face a surcharge equal to 15 percent of the average Medigap premium.
- More high-income surcharges. Wealthier seniors already pay substantially more for Part B and Part D premiums. Last year, President Obama proposed expanding these surcharges, and the idea likely will turn up again in this year's budget, according to advocates with sources close to the White House.

Currently, individuals with income of $85,000 and above ($170,000 for joint filers) pay a higher share of the total premiums. The president's plan would boost some of those fees, and gradually pull in seniors with lower incomes. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates individuals with incomes of $47,000 and higher ($94,000 for joint filers) would be affected.
Whenever Obama has spoken about such cost-shifting, he speaks about asking "wealthy seniors to pay more." Apparently, $47,000 a year makes you rich. 

However, when talking about taxes, Obama and the Democratic Party always define "middle-class" up to $250,000. The "fiscal cliff" deal, however, defined "middle-class" all the way up to $450,000.
The best way to create more rich people is to define down the threshold for being rich. Politicians will never do that for taxes, but they all-too-often seem fine (if not excited) about doing that when it comes to cutting benefits. How very strange.

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