House Considers Bill To Freeze Premiums for Medicare Part B
On Wednesday, House Democrats proposed legislation that would freeze Medicare Part B premiums for the coming year rather than letting them increase for certain beneficiaries and result in reductions in Social Security checks, Politico reports.Â 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 (Rogers, Politico, 9/24).
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.
Lawmakers are considering whether to attach the roughly $2 billion proposal to freeze the premiums to a continuing resolution or to consider it as its own bill (Cohn, CongressDaily, 9/23).
The proposal was introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Subcommittee on Health Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) (CongressDaily, 9/24).The House could attach the freeze to the CR, which they could vote on as early as Thursday (Clarke, CQ Today, 9/23). According to Rangel, lawmakers could also consider it as a free-standing bill on Thursday before sending it to the Senate (Politico, 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.