Rep. Berman Fights to Block Doubling and Tripling of Medicare Premiums for Many Seniors
Today, Rep. Howard Berman announced his support for Democratic legislation that would block Republican provisions that would double and triple Medicare premiums for many seniors. Rep. Berman signed a discharge petition that would bring this proposal (H.R. 5147) to the floor of the House for a fair up-or-down vote, once a majority of Congress signs it.
"Throughout its 41year history, Medicare has been an enormous success in providing universal coverage to millions of American seniors and people with disabilities," said Rep. Berman.
"Throughout this period, beneficiaries have always paid the same monthly premium for their Medicare coverage. Now, in their first step in trying to dismantle Medicare, Republicans are going to levy astronomically higher premiums on higher-income seniors."
Republicans included provisions in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act that required, beginning in January 2007, that Medicare premiums be tied to a beneficiary's income.
"Beginning on January 1," said Rep. Berman, "unless Congress acts quickly, nearly two million seniors will have to pay dramatically higher monthly Medicare premiums. The Bush Administration has announced that on January 1st, the standard premium for Medicare Part B will increase from $88.50 to $93.50 a month. However, under these controversial Republican provisions, for nearly two million higher-income seniors, the premiums will be substantially higher - nearly doubling to more than $160 a month for some. In three years, some seniors will be paying nearly $400 a month for Medicare Part B. Medicare will no longer be a good deal for these individuals."
"These Republican provisions," Rep. Berman stated, "will drive healthier, higher-income seniors out of Medicare and into private plans, ultimately changing the program from universal coverage to a welfare program."
"To make matters worse," Rep. Berman added, "under a proposal submitted to Congress this year by President Bush, over time, more and more middle-income seniors will have to be paying these unaffordably high Medicare premiums."
Rep. Berman added, "Congress needs to act. This is urgent legislation. We must block these unaffordably high premium increases before they go into effect in January. If some seniors begin leaving the Medicare program because it is no longer a good deal, Congress will have destroyed the universal quality that has made Medicare the popular, successful program it has always been."