NTEU Fights to Protect Retirees Facing Higher Medicare Premiums

NTEU is urging Congress to pass legislation in a continuing resolution that would protect millions of federal retirees from a potential spike in Medicare Part B premiums next year.

According to the 2016 Medicare Trustees Report, enrollee premiums for Medicare Part B—a federal program that pays for doctor services, outpatient care and some home health care—are projected to increase significantly for nearly 30 percent of beneficiaries.

The remaining 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries would have their monthly Part B premium increase capped at the increase in their monthly Social Security benefit under the “hold harmless rule” in federal law. Part B premiums could rise to an estimated $149 a month in 2017, up from $121 a month, while the deductible could increase to $204 from $166.

In a letter to congressional leaders, NTEU and a coalition of 75 national organizations urged for action to be taken to protect federal retirees and other seniors by extending the hold harmless rule to them before the new year.

“No beneficiary should be forced to pay more than they otherwise would simply because some beneficiaries are afforded critical protections against reductions in their Social Security checks,” the letter said.

The hold harmless rule says Social Security payments can’t be reduced from one year to the next because of cost increases in Medicare Part B.

The Social Security Administration today announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for the nation’s retirees. This meager adjustment, which is tied to inflation, applies to federal retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System and those under the Civil Service Retirement System.