The efforts are on two fronts: (1) a push for the government to provide $250 in emergency relief to Social Security beneficiaries in 2010; and (2) capping the Medicare Part B premium, so some Part B participants don’t have to pay a disproportionate share of the premiums.
The House fast-tracked a $2.8 billion bill designed to stop Part B premium hikes for about 11 million beneficiaries; the 2010 premiums would hold steady at $96.40 instead of rising to as much as $119. The situation arose because Medicare law requires Part B premiums to pay for a quarter of the program’s total cost. Three of four beneficiaries are currently shielded from the premium increases.
At the same time, Congress is considering the $250 emergency relief for Social Security recipients. The problem is finding the $14 billion to finance it. “We’re trying to move something on a bipartisan basis if it’s possible,” says David Sloane, AARP senior vice president of government relations and advocacy. AARP CEO Barry Rand, in a letter to congressional leaders, urged action: “The combination of higher health care costs, including prescription drug prices, and a stagnant Social Security benefit is particularly troubling and will result in lower net Social Security payments to millions of America’s seniors in January 2010.” For more, go to aarp.org/governmentwatch.