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by Reshma Mehta, May 2008
It seems that anyone you talk to would tell you that health care is becoming more expensive. And it’s true. Health care costs—hospital bills, doctors’ co-pays, and prescription prices—are rising faster than the rate of inflation, with no end in sight.
One of the groups hardest hit by skyrocketing health care costs are the 44 million Medicare beneficiaries in this country. The cost of the monthly premium that people on Medicare pay has more than doubled since 2000—from $43 to $96 per month—and is expected to keep climbing. And that’s on top of all of the other out-of-pocket costs that Medicare subscribers pay.
Yet Congress is debating another raise in Medicare premiums. How is this possible?
The house and senate are responsible for deciding how much doctors in the Medicare program get reimbursed for seeing patients. Last December, Congress passed legislation that prevented a scheduled cut in physician reimbursements and instead gave doctors a modest pay increase. But that was a stop-gap measure that only lasted for six months.
Now, by June 30, Congress has to decide the pay rate doctors will receive from Medicare. If your senators and representatives vote for another pay increase, which is reported to be likely, they will also need to find the money to pay for that increase. Right now, part of the proposed solution is raising Medicare premiums again.
AARP believes doctors need to be paid equitably, but forcing Medicare enrollees to bear the burden through even higher premiums is just not fair. The facts are:
Medicare premiums have more than doubled since 2000.
Another premium hike would be added to the price of already growing out-of-pocket health expenses.
For five of the last six years, Congress has voted to hike doctors' rates by raising premiums. This has forced older Americans to pay more for the failure of Congress to legislate a solution to runaway health care costs.
AARP is fighting to keep your Medicare premiums fair, but we need your help. It’s time for you to make your voice heard loud and clear on this issue. Go to www.keepmedicarefair.org to sign AARP’s online "Keep Medicare Fair" petition. Tell your senators that raising Medicare premiums even more to cover skyrocketing health care costs is just not fair!
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