House Dems say they won't OK reduction in Medicare benefits

House Democrats say they will refuse to reduce any Medicare benefits as a way to avoid premium increases next year, according to The Hill. But while this would bode well for millions of Medicare members, it could mean a potential Democrat-Republican grudge match.

On Thursday, Democrats again asked outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) support their cause to avoid the 52 percent Medicare premium increase that will affect more than 8 million Part B enrollees in 2016. 

Part of the reason for the sudden spike in Part B premiums is that there will be no cost of living increase for Social Security this year. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has repeatedly tried to develop a compromise with Republicans that would avert Medicare cuts, but she has not been successful, as the two political parties disagee about how to pay for stopping the premium increase.

If the House cannot come up with an agreement by 2016, the responsibility to cover the premium hike will fall on the states individually, with California potentially facing $550 million in new costs alone.

But Rep. Jan Shakowsky (D-Ill.) tells The Hill that finding the $7.5 billion in funding to stop the premium increases shouldn't even be an issue. "Really? We're going to argue about how we're going to pay for that while we're giving these tax cuts and there are all these tax breaks for oil?" says Schakowsky, co-chairwoman of the Seniors Task Force. "We should not have to have that conversation."

To learn more:
- read The Hill article