A quirk in the laws governing Medicare and Social Security will expose millions of Americans to a staggering 50 percent increase in their premiums for the part of Medicare that covers doctors’ bills, known as Medicare Part B. It is imperative that Congress pass legislation to protect low- and middle-income people who cannot pay that much.
Under a 1997 law, premium payments must cover 25 percent of the projected per capita costs for Part B. The premiums, which can rise and fall from year to year, are usually deducted from beneficiaries’ Social Security payments each month. A “hold harmless” provision guarantees that for most people the dollar amount of a premium increase cannot be so big that they are left with a Social Security check that is less than that of the year before. The goal is to ensure that beneficiaries, most of whom have modest incomes, don’t have less money to live on.
– The New York Times