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DelBene: Keep Medicare Premiums Affordable for Seniors

Without congressional action, 332,000 Washington seniors will see a spike in Medicare premiums next year.

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Washington, DC, October 23, 2015 | comments

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today called on Congress to immediately protect seniors and people with disabilities from significant increases in their 2016 Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles. DelBene is cosponsoring legislation to fix this problem, called the Medicare Premium Fairness Act (H.R. 3696), which would keep Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles for all Medicare enrollees at the 2015 levels.

“We must keep healthcare affordable for America’s seniors,” DelBene said.  “Unless Congress acts, many seniors will find Medicare premiums and deductibles simply unaffordable next year. I urge House leaders to take up this legislation to avoid shifting greater costs onto our seniors.”

Each year, the Medicare Part B premium is calculated to cover 25 percent of program costs — meaning when program costs rise, so do premiums. However, there is also a “hold harmless” policy in existing law that ensures most seniors do not see a Part B premium increase if it is projected to be greater than the Social Security COLA.

On Oct. 15, it was announced that there will be no Social Security COLA in 2016. Because of the way the law is written, it is estimated that premiums for 30 percent of Medicare enrollees will be disproportionately increased from $104.90 per month to $159.30 per month in 2016, unless Congress acts. In addition, deductibles will also spike — and the increase will affect all Medicare enrollees.

In Washington, 332,000 Medicare enrollees will be affected by this spike in the premium — including 168,000 who are low-income. Those premium increases for low-income seniors will cost Washington more than $56 million through its Medicaid program.

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