Medicare Premium Fairness Act Passes House

By a vote of 406-18, the House passed the Medicare Premium Fairness Act (HR 3631) this afternoon to protect 11 million seniors and cash-strapped states from unfair increases in their 2010 Medicare Part B premiums. For nearly 75% of Medicare enrollees, Medicare Part B premiums — which cover physician and outpatient care and is deducted from Social Security checks — cannot increase more than the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security. Because the Social Security COLA is likely to be zero next year because of the recession, without congressional action, the other 27% of enrollees will see their Part B premium increase from $96 per month to $110-120 per month as Part B premiums are required by law to cover 25 percent of Medicare Part B's costs. Those who, without this legislation, would see their premium increase include:

low-income dual eligibles

higher-income Medicare beneficiaries

new Medicare enrollees

enrollees whose Medicare premiums are not deducted from their Social Security checks

These hikes would directly threaten the pocketbooks of 4 million new enrollees and retirees, as well as state budgets, which cover premiums for 7 million low-income seniors. There is no reason this burden should fall on seniors and people with disabilities, especially during difficult economic times.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ):

Rep. Pallone:
“As we all know states across the nation are facing large budget deficits and are being forced to slash critical services and increase taxes. This simply is not the time that the federal government should be shifting more cost to states who are simply unable to absorb it.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA):

Rep. Matsui:
“I believe my colleagues will agree with me that inaction is not an option here today. As our country begins to climb back out of one of the largest recessions in recent memory, now is the worse possible moment to saddle our seniors with increased premiums.”

Learn more about the bill>>