Lawmakers, Employee Groups Rally to Prevent Medicare Premium Hikes for Federal Retirees
Absent congressional action, in 2016 federal and postal retirees may see their Medicare Part B premiums increase dramatically – the premium increase could be as much as 52 percent, raising payments from $104.90 to $159.30 per month.
According to The New York Times, Congressional leaders and the Obama administration are seeking an accord to address the pending rate spike.
With federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) included in the group of those affected by the potential change, many federal workforce groups are working with the Hill to address the premium increases. Many workforce groups recently signed onto a letter that the Medicare Rights Center sent to Capitol Hill.
What’s at issue is the so-called hold harmless provision, which stipulates that a dollar increase in the Medicare Part B premium is limited to the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security benefit from the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). When there is no COLA, as is the situation for this year, 30 percent of beneficiaries not covered by the hold harmless provision would be forced to cover the full premium increase.
The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) has a handy primer on the Medicare Part B premium increases and the hold harmless provision, and has been actively addressing the pending premium increase.
“If Congress fails to take action, Medicare premiums will rise by 52 percent for millions of beneficiaries, including many federal retirees, simply because they pay for Medicare by other means than through Social Security,” said NARFE President Richard Thissen. “The deductible will rise by 52 percent as well. All told, that amounts to increases of more than $700 a year. That could pay for food or rent for an entire month in many parts of the country.”
Thissen joined members of Congress in a Capitol Hill press conference last week where legislation was introduced (H.R. 3696; S. 2148) by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to address the premium spikes that could affect an estimated 7.5 million Americans.
“It is urgent that Congress take decisive action to ensure vulnerable Americans aren’t harmed by this archaic policy,” said Sen. Wyden.
Posted in From the Hill