Alarm sounds on Medicare premium hikes

Advocates and lawmakers are gearing up for an effort to prevent Medicare premium increases next year. 

{mosads}The federal government on Tuesday announced a very small cost of living increase for Social Security checks next year, just 0.3 percent. Because of the complex formulas that factor this increase into Medicare, that means that about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries could see an increase in their Part B premiums next year. 

There are calls for Congress to take action to stop the increase, as lawmakers did for a similar situation last year in the budget deal. 

The AARP on Tuesday pointed to a letter it wrote to Congress last month, along with a range of other groups, including the AFL-CIO, urging lawmakers to stop the premium increases. 

“We urge you to advance a solution that will significantly lessen the projected Part B premium and deductible increases in 2017,” the groups wrote. 

“As it did in 2015, Congress should make it a priority to shield people with Medicare from the unintended consequences” of the premium formula, the groups added. 

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said Tuesday that he is looking for a solution. 

“Seniors in Medicare expect their health costs to be affordable and stable, and I’ll be looking at every option in the days ahead to make sure that remains the case,” Wyden said in a statement. 

The exact size of the Medicare premium increases has not yet been determined, and the announcement could come later this month.

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