Steep Medicare Premium Hike Averted Through Recently Enacted Budget
CMS Announces 2016 Medicare Part A and B Premiums and Deductibles
November 17, 2015 09:26 AM
The significant budget agreement that was recently enacted into law following negotiations between Congress and President Barack Obama (see previous NAHC Report article here) reduced the steep increase in Medicare Part B premiums that would have otherwise gone into effect. Medicare Part B premiums were previously scheduled to increase by approximately 50 percent starting next year for more than 15 million individuals, or 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries—those not protected by the “hold harmless” provision (see previous NAHC Report article here).
The “hold harmless provision” under federal law protects 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries from any Medicare premium increase that exceeds the annual increase in an individual’s Social Security benefit. However, 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are not held harmless—those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, individuals with incomes over $85,000 annually, new enrollees, and those who do not receive Social Security. Prior to the budget agreement, those affected beneficiaries would have seen their premiums increased from $105 to $159 per month in 2016.
The budget agreement significantly reduced the increase in Medicare Part B premiums for individuals who are not held harmless. On Tuesday, November 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare Part B premiums for affected individuals will be $121.80, instead of $159, in 2016. CMS credited the budget agreement between Congress and President Obama for allowing the reduced premiums. For more information about CMS’ announcement, click here.
“Our goal is to keep Medicare Part B premiums affordable. Thanks to the leadership of Congress and President Obama, the premiums for 52 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Part B will be either flat or substantially less than they otherwise would have been,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “Affordability for Medicare enrollees is a key goal of our work building a health care system that delivers better care and spends health care dollars more wisely.”
The budget agreement passed with bipartisan support in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) praised the agreement for “stopping a sharp increase in Medicare Part B payments for our seniors.” She added: “The security of our country, the growth of our economy, the financial stability of our seniors and people with disabilities—for the full faith and credit of the United States of America, we’re very proud.”
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice expressed its support for finding a compromise to prevent the steep increase in premiums, as Medicare Part B covers some home health services and certain Medicare home health beneficiaries could have been affected.