KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Passes Bill To Stop Some Medicare Premium Increases

The House voted overwhelmingly to stop premium increases in Medicare Part B- which covers doctor visits - from taking effect next year.

The Associated Press: "The bill now goes to the Senate, where the Finance Committee is expected to take it up soon, though no hearings were scheduled. Lawmakers said older Americans shouldn't have to pay higher Medicare Part B premiums because they are not expected to get a cost-of-living increase from Social Security. Most seniors have their Medicare premiums deducted from their Social Security payments."

Most Medicare beneficiaries are exempt from Part B increases when there's no Social Security increase, but several million would have faced an $8 to $23 increase next year in the standard monthly premium of $96.40. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer voted against the bill, which passed 406-18, saying that it would help mostly wealthy seniors (Ohlemacher, 9/25).

CQ Politics: "Politically, the legislation would spare Democrats from having Medicare premiums climb sharply for new enrollees and seniors with incomes above $85,000 ($170,000 for couples) as they put together an overhaul of the health care system that has some seniors deeply worried. … The bill would cost $2.8 billion and would be offset by reducing the Medicare Improvement Fund, which the Health and Human Services Department uses to make improvements to Medicare Part A and Part B" (9/24).

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