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As Medicare Premiums near $100, AARP Tells Lawmakers to Fix Program Responsibly

As Medicare premiums near the $100 mark, AARP called on Congress to remember the people who rely on Medicare when they consider changes to the program this fall. Congress is working to stop a drastic payment cut to Medicare physicians—a cut that could push even more doctors out of Medicare and make it harder for older Americans to find a doctor. Preserving access to doctors is critical, but lawmakers must also ensure the costs aren’t paid by people in Medicare with higher premiums.

“We have already seen Medicare premiums double since 2000, making it more difficult for older Americans—especially those on fixed incomes—to afford their health care,” said AARP Director of Government Relations David Sloane. “As we work to ensure people in Medicare can continue to see their own doctors, we also must ensure they can still afford their premiums. Access means little to those who can’t afford it.

“Further, the CMS estimate is artificially low. Every year since 2002, Congress has overridden the flawed physician payment system. This year CMS’s estimate assumes that next year Congress will not override a 10 percent reduction in physician payment rates, defying history. Enough is enough. People in Medicare continue to pay the price for these fiscal games in the form of higher premiums. This year, Congress has the opportunity to make the program fairer by restoring the balance between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage and ensuring beneficiaries maintain access to their physicians. The time for action is now.”

AARP supported legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this summer that paid for the physician payment fix and other Medicare improvements in a fiscally responsible manner that would hold down premiums. Instead of raising out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries, it would reduce the excess payments to private insurance plans in Medicare, which cost the government billions of dollars each year.

“When the government opened Medicare to private plans, the insurance companies promised their efficiency could provide members with more benefits for less than the cost of Medicare,” Sloane added. “Now we’re paying them too much, and its driving up costs for taxpayers and all people in Medicare.”

Representing the nation’s largest organization for people 50-plus and America’s largest physician’s group, AARP and the American Medical Association are working together to urge Congress to preserve people’s access to Medicare doctors without raising premiums.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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