From: Patricia A. Lipovsky via fcb-l [mailto:fcb-l@xxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2015 6:11 PM
Subject: [fcb-l] Medicare Watch
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From: Medicare Watch
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2015 11:55 AM
Subject: CMS Releases New Part B Premium and Deductible for 2016
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CMS Releases New Part B Premium and Deductible for 2016
November 12, 2015 Volume 6, Issue 43
Drastic Part B Premium and Deductible Increases Prevented
This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
announced that starting January 1st, the Part B premium will remain the same
for most people with Medicare, amounting to $104.90 per month. For
beneficiaries who are not held harmless and protected from premium
increases, the standard Part B premium will be $118.80. These beneficiaries
will also pay a $3 surcharge, bringing their total monthly cost to $121.80.
The Part B deductible will be $166 for all people with Medicare, up from
Thanks to bipartisan action by Congressional leaders and the
White House, steep and unprecedented increases in the 2016 Part B premium
and deductible were prevented. With no Social Security cost of living
adjustment in 2016, many beneficiaries and their families were facing a
nearly 50 percent increase in monthly premiums and an increase in their Part
B deductible up to $223.
To limit the magnitude of anticipated premium increases,
lawmakers agreed to lessen the increase, essentially offering a loan to
affected beneficiaries. Over time, this loan will be repaid through the
monthly premium surcharge. Half of all people with Medicare live on annual
incomes of $24,150 or less and cannot afford stark increases in their
monthly health expenses. By spreading the cost of the increased premium over
time and bringing down the cost of the deductible, Congress and the White
House blunted the impact of an unprecedented shock to Medicare households.
Read the announcement from CMS.
Read a statement from Medicare Rights.
AARP Advocates for Public Information on the Cost-Effectiveness
of Prescription Drugs
In a recent blog post on thehill.com, Debra B. Whitman, Vice
President of Policy Strategy and International Affairs of AARP, argues for
changes to the prescription drug market. Citing continually increasing
prices for both new and existing medications, Dr. Whitman urges the health
care system to push back against high prescription drug prices.
She provides examples of limited successes—where hospitals or
government insurers fought high prices and achieved reductions in medication
costs. Dr. Whitman maintains that these successes show that there is room
for pharmaceutical company profits even where lower prices prevail. Dr.
Whitman writes that manufacturers should be required to conduct studies and
release information about the comparative effectiveness of their medications
and lower-cost alternatives, and that U.S. policymakers should demand this
of pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Read the blog post.
If you collect Social Security benefits and your Medicare Part B
premium is deducted from those benefits each month (this is the case for the
majority of people with Medicare), you may be protected under the hold
harmless provision. The hold harmless provision protects Social Security
recipients from paying higher Part B premium costs so long as:
- You are entitled to Social Security benefits for November and
December of the current year (2015);
- The Medicare Part B premium will be or was deducted from your
Social Security benefits in November 2015 through January 2016;
- You don’t already pay higher Part B premiums because of
Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) eligibility; and
- You do not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) large
enough to cover the increased premium. COLA is additional income given to
Social Security recipients to protect against inflation decreasing the
benefit’s purchasing power. There is not a COLA every year, and it is not
expected that there will be one in 2016.
The hold harmless provision does NOT protect you if:
- You are new to Medicare. Hold harmless does not apply to you
because you have not been enrolled in Medicare Part B long enough to
- You are subject to IRMAA.
- You are enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program (MSP). However,
the MSP should continue paying for your full Part B premium.
- You were enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program in 2015 but
lost the program because your income increased or you failed to recertify.
Note: If you qualify for the hold harmless provision but pay a
Part B late enrollment penalty, the penalty will not be waived, and may
increase. This is because the penalty will be calculated based on the new,
higher premium—even if you are not paying that higher amount. Thus while
your base Part B premium will not change, you’ll likely face a higher total
Part B premium bill due to the late enrollment penalty.
Learn more on Medicare Interactive.
If you are a caregiver interested in connecting with State
Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) representatives and
representatives from other national organizations who serve caregivers,
attend the AARP Virtual Caregiver Fair on Thursday, November 19th. This live
event offers you a convenient way to connect with important caregiving
resources, services, tools, and to other family caregivers. Drop in anytime
from 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Pre-registration is required.
Register for the event here.
Stay up-to-date on Medicare policy and advocacy developments,
and learn about changes in Medicare benefits and rules with this weekly
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