Slaughter Pushes Congress to Protect Seniors, Keep Medicare Affordable
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise Slaughter today called for the GOP-led Congress to immediately act to protect seniors and people with disabilities from significant increases in their 2016 Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles. Slaughter is pushing legislation that would fix this problem, keeping Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles for all Medicare enrollees at their current, 2015 levels.
“I am calling upon Speaker Boehner to immediately bring up legislation to keep health care affordable for seniors in Monroe County,” said Rep. Slaughter. “Time is running out to prevent drastic, disastrous increases to Medicare premiums and deductibles for millions of seniors beginning January 1.”
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.
“In New York alone, a total of 1,136,000 Medicare enrollees will be affected by this spike in the premium—including 613,000 low-income enrollees whose premium increase will be paid by the state Medicaid program, at a cost of nearly $206 million to our state government. It also includes 523,000 New Yorkers who will be forced to pay this dramatic increase in their premiums out of their own pocket,” added Rep. Slaughter.
“Unless Congress acts, many seniors will find Medicare premiums and deductibles simply unaffordable next year,” concluded Rep. Slaughter. “It would be unconscionable for Congress not to act immediately to ensure that health care remains affordable for all of America’s seniors.”