The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services-CMS (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration-HFCA)

(10/15/20)- Social Security Administration officials announced that Social Security recipients would receive a 1.3% cost-of-living increase in their benefits checks per month in 2021.Last year the benefit was increased by 1.6%. This translates to about a $20 per month increase for the average beneficiary.

The cost-of-living index is calculated from the Department of Labor’s consumer-price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, or CPI-W.

Medicare trustees increased Medicare Part B standard premiums, which covers doctor’s visits to $153.30 from $144.60 this year.

The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax was increased to $142,800 in 2021 from $137,700 in 2020.

(10/21/18)-’Social Security officials announced a cost-of-living increase of 2.8% for the 67 million Social Security beneficiaries starting with the checks to the 8 million SSI beneficiaries on December 31, 2018 and to the 62 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2019.

That would mean an extra $39 a month for the average retired worker.

(2/3/18)- Alex Azur, the newly appointed director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Dr, Brenda Fitzgerald (71) would resign as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Anne Schuchat, a long-term veteran employee of the C.D.C. was named acting director.


The resignation took place shortly after Politco reported that she had traded in stocks of tobacco companies, which violated conflict of interest rules for employees of the C.D.C.


(1/29/18)- President Trump’s nominee, Alex M. Azar, in a largely partisan vote of 55-43 was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He succeeds Tom Price who resigned in September amid questions of his use of military and private planes.

Please see our item dated 11/16/17 below

Mr. Azur was deputy secretary of the department in the George W. Bush administration, before going on to head an affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co. He has been a critic of the Affordable Care Act which the HHS oversees

(11/15/17)- President Trump announced his choice of Alex M. Azar II as his nominee to replace Tom Price as head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mr. Price resigned from the post after media reports of his usage of chartered jets, paid for by the government, for routine government travel. Mr. Trump’s announcement came via a Twitter announcement while on his Asian tour.

Mr. Azar  is an attorney, who resigned from his job as an executive with Eli Lilly& Co. in January. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 1990s. He then worked under Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton.

He then became general counsel and deputy secretary at the HHS.

For the next decade he was an executive with Eli Lilly & Co.
(10/16/17)- Social Security officials announced a 2.2% increase for monthly checks starting late in December for disability beneficiaries and in January for Social Security beneficiaries. This is the largest increase since a 3.6% increase in 2012

The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase next year by $1,500 to $128,700. The workers share of Social Security payroll tax is 6.2% of eligible wages .Employers pay the same rate.

About 66.7 million people will therefore receive a boost in their income next year that will come to on average, $27.38 a month for retiree beneficiaries, and $23.44 for disability beneficiaries

Premiums for Medicare Part B premiums  for next year have not been announced yet.


(10/19/15)- The official price measure used by the Labor Department to calculate the cost-of-living adjustment was down 0.4% from last year’s level in the third quarter, so Social Security beneficiaries are not going to see any increase in their checks next year. 2010 and2011 were also years in which there was no Social Security cost-of-living check increases for beneficiaries.

Congress adopted that formula in the 1970s, and that has resulted in benefit checks rising only 2 per cent in the last 10 years.

About 56 million Americans receive Social Security checks, along with 8 million more who receive Supplemental Social Security checks. The average monthly check is $1,224.

The maximum of wage income subject to payroll taxes will remain at $118,000.

(7/25/15)- The annual report card from the trustees of Social Security Trust Fund said that Social Security beneficiaries should not expect to see any cost-of-living increase in 2016 because inflation has remained very low.

While about 70% of Medicare beneficiaries would continue to pay $104.90 as their premium for their coverage under the program, the remaining 30%, including new beneficiaries, and enrollees with higher incomes could see their premiums go up to $159.30.

Potential premium changes or cost-of-living adjustments will not be finalized until October.

(3/19/15)- One of the mazes that one runs through in later in your lifetime involves a very important financial decision that you enter into when it comes to the choice that you make in regards to your Social Security benefit.

In order to help you understand the choices available to you, we at therubins highly recommend that you read “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security” by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University, Philip Moeller and Paul Soloman.

The book will answer your questions as to what is the best route for you to take when you make the decision

(6/19/14)- A report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging chastised the Social Security Agency for closing field offices and reducing in person services, even though the demand for those services keeps growing with the aging of our population, and the nation’s ever so slow emergence from the Recession of 2008.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said, “Seniors are not being served well when you arbitrarily close offices and reduce access to services.”

The field offices served over 43 million people last year, and that number will continue to grow. There has been a 27% increase in claims for retirement benefits, to 3.3 million last year, from 2.6 million in 2007.

The agency closed 64 of its 1,245 field offices, and shuttered 533 temporary mobile offices in the last 5 years. Its operating budget, which was $11 billion in 2013, is about 4% less than what it was in 2011. The report went on to point out that the number of full-time employees in Social Security field offices has declined by 14% since October 2010 to 25,420 in 2013.

The agency is trying to shift many of its services to be handled online, but the problem with that is many of the applicants have no computers or are totally unfamiliar with operating a computer.

(11/1/13)- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that Medicare Part B monthly premium will remain at $104.90 in 2014, as it was in 2013. Those beneficiaries with higher adjusted gross income will have to pay higher premiums.

The Social Security Administration announced that its payments to 63 million beneficiaries and the disabled will increase by 1.5% beginning in January 2014, which would be one of the smallest percentage increases since the program started in1975. This annual adjustment is calculated according to how much the consumer price index rises during the third quarter of the year from the same quarter in the prior year.

The Social Security increase was 1.7% in 2013, following no increases in 2011 and 2010.

The average Social Security check will rise by $19 a month to $1,294 beginning in January.

(12/25/11)- President Barack Obama signed the law that would extend for two months the cut for an employee's share of the Social Security payroll tax at the current level of 4.2% of wages through February 29, 2012. In the absence of Congressional action, the tax would have reverted to the 6.2% level. Employer's share of the tax will remain at 6.2%

Under the law, the federal government will also continue to pay unemployment insurance benefits under current policy through February 29, 2012.

Medicare will continue to pay doctors at current rates for two months, thus averting a 27% cut that was due to take place on January 1, 2012

(5/11/09)- The Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously in favor of William Corr to become deputy secretary of health and human services. Mr. Corr, who previously worked for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids until January where he was the executive director and a lobbyist for the organization in Washington, is expected to easily win full Senate confirmation.

He has also worked on health-care policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, and was an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle

The Social Security Administration uses individual medical records to determine almost 3 million disability claims each year. It is the largest independent federal agency, and will pay $615 billion in Social Security benefits to over 51 million beneficiaries, and provide more than $43 billion in assistance to over 7 million SSI recipients with limited income and assets. 

(11/6/07)- Lawmakers in Ohio finally have repealed the law that made it the only state that reduces unemployment payments to people over 62 by the full amount of their Social Security benefits. States began to abolish or reduce the deduction of the benefits after the mid-1980s, when Congress amended a law that had required it.

Forty states no longer deduct any percentage of Social Security benefits, and nine states deduct 50%, according to the Department of Labor. The cost to Ohio is estimated at about $25 million annually and will be covered by the state's unemployment funds.

(12/31/04)- President Bush said that he will nominate Michael O. Leavitt, a former three-term governor of Utah to be secretary of health and human services replacing Tommy G. Thompson. Mr. Leavitt is the present administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. As secretary, Mr. Leavitt would supervise the CMS, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly, the disabled and the poor.

As chairman of the National Governors Association in 1999 and 2000 he sought more authority for the states to revamp Medicaid and welfare programs. The department spent over $543 billion last year compared to the $8.3 billion that was spent by the EPA. There are over 60,000 employees in the department versus the approximately 18,000 employees in the EPA. Other agencies that are in the realm of the Health and Human Services domain are the National Institute of Health, the FDA and the CDC. Mr. Leavitt is 53-yeaqrs of age.

One of the biggest problem areas now faced by the department is the fact that it is now estimated that there are over 43 million Americans without health insurance as against the estimated 39.8 million in 2000.

(7/19/04)- The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CMS runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It provides health insurance for over81 million Americans through Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health. As their web site states.... CMS also performs a number of quality-focused activities, including regulation of laboratory testing (CLIA), surveys and certification, development of coverage policies, and quality-of-care improvement.

The CMS conducts studies of amongst other things, projections of spending for national healthcare. These projections are quite important in evaluating estimates of future costs for Medicare and private health. In their just released study the projections call for a slower increase in spending for the next ten years than had previously been projected. The rate of annual growth in spending for the decade from 1997-2007 is expected to slow to 6.5%, as opposed to the 7% growth figure projected last year. Medicare spending is projected to grow just 4.5% a year over the 1997-2000 period, compared to the 5.1% figure projected last year. Healthcare spending in 1997 (the most recent year for which figures are available) cost $1.1 trillion, and is expected to double by the year 2008. Dr. Mark B. McClellan is the new administrator for the CMS after heading the FDA.

The Health Resources and Services Administration and the CMS jointly run the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers approximately 11 million uninsured children. The HCFA regulates all laboratory testing (except research) performed on humans in the United States. The CMS and the Departments of Labor and Treasury oversee the health insurance coverage for all Americans.

The CMS:

Together with other federal departments, and state and local governments, the CMS takes action against those who commit fraud and guarantees security for the Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Programs. It is also responsible for quality assessment and performance improvement of the organizations under its purview.

It is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and has 10 regional offices.

The CMS runs Medicare which covers over 44 million Americans at a cost of over $240 billion annually. It also oversees Medicaid the health insurance program for low-income individuals. There are broad federal requirements for Medicaid, but states have a good deal of flexibility to design their own programs. The states may:

CMS along with the Health Resources Services Administration runs the Children's Health Insurance Program, which became available on October 1, 1997. This program will provide federal matching funds over 5 years to help states expand health care coverage to as many as 5 million of the nation's uninsured children. States set eligibility and coverage requirements following broad federal guidelines. Recipients in all states must have low incomes, be otherwise ineligible for Medicaid, and be uninsured. Application for this program is made at the state welfare office.

By Allan Rubin
updated October 15, 2020

To e-mail:  or

Return to Home