Bill To Freeze Medicare Part B Premiums Sails Through House Vote
On Thursday, the House passed a bill that would freeze Medicare Part B premiums in 2010 for 11 million seniors, rather than permitting an increase for beneficiaries that ultimately would cause reductions in their Social Security checks, CQ Today reports. The measure passed 406-18 (CQ Today, 9/24).
Part B covers physician services.
Medicare is expected to announce higher Part B premiums next month, which typically are deducted from Social Security checks.
Premiums generally increase each year, but because of a drop in the consumer price index there will be no cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients next year.
Three-quarters of Part B beneficiaries are "held harmless" from premium increases, leaving the final quarter of beneficiariesÂ to shoulder the entire cost burden. This year, the increase would be nearly four times that of a normal increase for beneficiaries who are not protected (California Healthline, 9/24).
Individually, certain seniors would have seen monthly premium increases of between $8 and $23. This year, the standard monthly premium is $96.40 (AP/New York Times, 9/25).
Breaking from his party, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) voted against the bill, saying the bill would mainly aid high-income Medicare beneficiaries. He said, "If we take care of everybody, we won't be able to take care of those who need us most" (AP/Boston Globe, 9/25).The bill now moves to the Senate; however, aides from both parties said it is unclear when the legislation will be considered or what the vote would be (Cohn, CongressDaily, 9/24). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.