WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) called for the GOP Congress to immediately act to protect seniors and people with disabilities from significant increases in their 2016 Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles. McGovern is co-sponsoring H.R.3696, the Medicare Premium Fairness Act of 2015, a bill that would fix this problem by keeping Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles for all Medicare enrollees at the 2015 levels.
“America’s seniors have contributed so much to our country and keeping health care affordable for them must be one of our top priorities,” Congressman McGovern said. “Time is running out to prevent drastic, disastrous Medicare premium and deducible increases for millions of seniors beginning on January 1. I am calling on the Speaker to immediately bring up legislation to fix that.”
“In Massachusetts alone, a total of 407,000 Medicare enrollees will be affected by this spike in the premium – including 229,000 who are low-income and whose premium increase will be paid by the state Medicaid program and 179,000 who will have to personally pay this dramatic increase in their premiums,” McGovern added. “In addition, our state government will have to pay more than $70 million for the premium increase for low-income seniors.”
“Unless Congress acts, many seniors will find Medicare premiums and deductibles simply unaffordable next year. It would be unconscionable for Congress not to act immediately to ensure that health care remains affordable for all of America’s seniors,” McGovern concluded.
Each year, the Medicare Part B premium is calculated to cover 25 percent of program costs, so when program costs rise so does the premium. However, there is also a “hold harmless” policy in existing law that ensures that most seniors do not see a decrease in their Social Security check if the Part B premium increase is projected to be greater than the Social Security COLA.
On October 15, it was announced that there will be no Social Security COLA in 2016. As a result, the “hold harmless” policy will ensure that about 70 percent of America’s seniors will be protected from any increase in their 2016 Medicare premium. Unfortunately, the other 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are not held harmless, including such groups as new Medicare enrollees, beneficiaries whose Medicare premiums are not deducted from their Social Security checks, and higher-income beneficiaries.
Because of the way the law is written, it is estimated that premiums for this 30 percent of Medicare enrollees will be disproportionately increased from $104.90 per month in 2015 to $159.30 per month in 2016, unless Congress acts. In addition, unless Congress acts, deductibles will also spike – and the deductible increase will be paid by all Medicare enrollees.
submitted by the office of Congressman Jim McGovern