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Congressman Boyle Demands Immediate Action in Congress to Keep Medicare Part B Premiums and Deductibles Affordable for Millions of Pennsylvania Seniors

October 23, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C.- Today, Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-PA-13) called for Republicans in Congress to immediately act to protect seniors and people with disabilities from significant increases in their 2016 Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles.  Congressman Boyle is a cosponsor of legislation, introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), that would fix this problem by keeping Part B premiums and deductibles for all Medicare enrollees at 2015 levels. 

“I am calling upon Speaker Boehner to immediately bring up legislation to keep health care affordable for America’s seniors,” said Congressman Boyle.  “Time is running out to prevent drastic, disastrous Medicare premium and deductible increases for millions of seniors beginning on January 1.”

Each year, the Medicare Part B premium is calculated to cover 25 percent of program costs, so when program costs rise so do the premium costs.  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 cost of living adjustment (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, if Congress does not act, deductibles will also spike – and the deductible increase will be paid by all Medicare enrollees.

“In Pennsylvania alone, a total of 671,000 Medicare enrollees will be affected by this spike in the premium – including 347,000 who are low-income and whose premium increase will be paid by the state Medicaid program and  324,000 who will have to personally pay this dramatic increase in their premiums,” Congressman Boyle pointed out.  “In addition, our state government will have to pay $105,967,000 for the premium increase for low-income seniors. This is entirely unacceptable, and entirely preventable.”

“Unless Congress acts, many seniors will find Medicare premiums and deductibles simply unaffordable next year,” concluded Congressman Boyle.  “It would be unconscionable for Congress not to do something immediately to ensure that health care remains affordable for all of America’s seniors.”