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Medicare Advantage Premiums To Drop Next Year

For some Medicare beneficiaries, the good times seem to keep rolling along.

Premiums for seniors enrolled in private Medicare health plans will drop 4 percent in 2012 while benefits remain stable, administration officials said today. In 2011 premiums fell by 1 percent.

The plans, called Medicare Advantage, are offered by health insurance companies as an alternative to traditional, government fee-for-service Medicare. Nearly 12 million seniors are in private Medicare health plans, about 25 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries.

Enrollment in the plans is expected to grow by 10 percent in 2012, said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Open enrollment in the Medicare health plans starts Oct. 15, a month earlier than in past years. It will run though Dec. 7.

Lower premiums and enrollment growth in the plans is the exact opposite of what health insurers predicted would happen after the federal health law was enacted. It reduces payments to the plans by $145 billion over a decade.

Many critics had raised fears that Medicare benefits would shrink and premiums would rise. Instead we are seeing just the opposite," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Medicare plans are stronger than ever and beneficiaries continue to have access to affordable options."

Last month, the administration said premiums for private Medicare prescription drug plans would fall slightly, too.

Copyright 2011 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/.

WAMU 88.5

The Role Of Music In Presidential Campaigns

Presidential candidates today frequently use popular pieces of music as campaign "theme songs"...often without approval from the musicians themselves. But using music on the campaign trail is not a modern phenomenon: it goes back to our earliest presidential elections. In the 1800s songs were used out of necessity: to reach potential voters who could not read. We investigate the history, evolution, and modern-day role of music in political campaigns.

NPR

From Dock To Dish: A New Model Connects Chefs To Local Fishermen

Prominent chefs are signing up for restaurant-supported fisheries: They commit to buying fresh-caught seafood, whatever the species, from local small fishermen. A pilot program launched in California.

WAMU 88.5

The Role Of Music In Presidential Campaigns

Presidential candidates today frequently use popular pieces of music as campaign "theme songs"...often without approval from the musicians themselves. But using music on the campaign trail is not a modern phenomenon: it goes back to our earliest presidential elections. In the 1800s songs were used out of necessity: to reach potential voters who could not read. We investigate the history, evolution, and modern-day role of music in political campaigns.

NPR

Yahoo CEO To Take Limited Leave After Giving Birth To Twins

NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Slate DoubleX Gabfest's Hanna Rosin about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to take just two weeks worth of parental leave after having twins in December.

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