As Congress Fails to Act, 1 in 3 Seniors Facing Big Hike in Medicare Premiums

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Hopes are dimming that Congress will intervene to block a huge Medicare premium increase of over 50 percent for nearly a third of the 50 million elderly Americans who receive their physician care and other health services through Medicare Part D.

Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked over how to come up with roughly $10.5 billion to prevent Medicare premiums from skyrocketing for millions of seniors beginning next January. The looming increase is the result of a quirk in the law that drives up premiums for wealthier Americans and poor people with chronic medical problems in years when the Social Security Administration doesn’t approve a cost-of-living adjustment for beneficiaries.

Related: Millions Face a 50 % Medicare Premium Hike If Obama and Congress Don’t Act

While both parties are interested in doing something to reduce or avert the premium hikes, Republicans are demanding that the cost of any bailout be offset by cuts in other areas of the Medicare program, while Democrats are resisting that approach. Moreover, there is a division between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – a major champion of a bailout – and some Senate Democratic leaders who are less enthusiastic about the effort and how to pay for it.

“It’s a big mess,” said one Washington health care expert who is following the negotiations closely.

Negotiations may pick up later this month once the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services formally releases its official 2016 premium rates, according to a report on Thursday by the Morning Consult.

 

 

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