Association Urges Freeze Of Medicare Rates For All

National Coalition Eyes Senate Action

NOVEMBER 10, 2009: With Medicare Part B rates set to increase by over 14% in 2010 for those who pay the premium directly or just recently enrolled in the federal program, the Association is urging our state's Congressional delegation to quickly pass H.R. 3631. The bill would freeze the Medicare Part B premium at the current $96.40 monthly premium.

Medicare officials recently announced that the 2010 monthly premium would increase to $110.50 for retirees who do not receive a Social Security benefit and therefore are not included under the so-called "hold harmless" law. Medicare enrollees, who receive Social Security benefits, will not see an increase in their Part B premium, due to the fact that their will not be a 2010 Social Security COLA.

However, those retirees who directly pay their Medicare Part B premium without a Social Security withholding or those who will enroll in the program after November 1, 2010 are now scheduled to pay the higher monthly premium.

"Congress was right to set up a law holding Medicare rates steady during times of fiscal downturn, when there would be no COLA paid. But this loophole, which pushes the higher costs onto direct payment retirees is unfair," said Association President Ralph White. "These retirees are already losing out due to the GPO and WEP, now the feds would have them paying higher Medicare premiums. This is an issue that must be resolved."

H.R. 3631 passed the US House in October, with almost unanimous support. As such, all 10 Massachusetts Congressmen voted for the bill. It is now pending action in the Senate, where it is before the Finance Committee. While Committee Chairman Max Baucus is on record supporting the bill, leading Republican Senators have placed a hold on any action.

"We are working closely with Senator Kerry, who is a ranking member of the Finance Committee. His staff have been in regular contact with our office, keeping us updated on the latest news," explained Association Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. "In addition, we are the only Massachusetts organization that is part of a national coalition that is fighting to get this bill passed and our members held harmless."

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