Tentative budget deal would avert rise in Medicare Part B premiums

Congressional leaders and the White House have reached a tentative budget deal, which if passed would prevent a rise in Medicare Part B premiums for some seniors.

House Republicans introduced legislation just before midnight Monday, resulting from a two-year budget agreement reached after weeks of negotiations between Congress and the Obama administration, according to the Washington Post. The package would prevent a 52 percent Medicare premium increase that will affect more than 8 million Part B enrollees in 2016 from going into effect. Congressional leaders have yet to include full details of how the spending increases would be offset, but if premiums are frozen for all recipients it will cost the government about $12 billion, according to a report in the National Journal.

Part of the reason for the sudden increase in Part B premiums for some seniors is that there will be no cost of living increase for Social Security next year. As a result, Medicare must evenly spread the projected premium increase across the 30 percent of individuals who don't qualify for the Social Security provision known as "hold harmless."

The 144-page bill that outlines the bipartisan budget deal could come to a vote as early as Wednesday, the Post reports. House Republicans were expected to discuss the legislation during a weekly closed-door meeting Tuesday morning.

The tentative budget agreement includes about $80 billion in additional spending over two years, according to the Post. Spending increases would be offset by savings from changes to the Social Security disability insurance fund and Medicare payments to physicians and other healthcare providers, as well as changes to Medicaid generic drug costs.

Congress is under the gun to take action as the country faces a Nov. 3 deadline to raise the debt ceiling and a Dec. 11 deadline to keep the government running.

To learn more:
- read the National Journal report
- here's the Washington Post article

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