Maloney working to protect and expand Social Security; stop huge Medicare fee increase for 7.5 million Americans

Oct 16, 2015
Press Release
Social Security recently announced no COLA for 2016

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) released the following statement after the Social Security Administration’s announcement that there would be no Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries in 2016, which will also lead to higher Medicare premiums for 7.5 million Americans:

“Seniors in New York City who rely on Social Security are seeing their expenses go up and without a Social Security COLA, they will struggle to pay higher medical, food, housing, and other bills. Seven and a half million Americans will also face higher Medicare premiums, as a result of today’s announcement.

“Seniors living on Social Security deserve to live with dignity and be able to meet their basic needs. It’s time Congress recognized that our seniors face different costs and apply a more accurate method than just inflation (CPI-W) for determining COLAs. That is especially true for New York City because part of the reason inflation appears to be so low is that the cost of gasoline is factored in so heavily, but most seniors I represent in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens don’t drive a car and do not benefit from the decrease.”

Background:

Maloney has cosponsored H. Res. 393 to protect and expand Social Security benefits. She is also a cosponsor of H.R. 3696, the Medicare Premium Fairness Act legislation authored by Rep. Dina Titus, which would keep Medicare premium and deductible rates at 2015 levels for all enrollees.

The Social Security Administration uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to determine whether the cost-of-living has increased.  According to the Washington Post, the “biggest reason retirees aren’t getting a raise” is due to lower fuel prices, even though medical, housing, and food costs – which are the majority of expenses faced by seniors - have increased. The Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) which represents spending of seniors has increased faster than the CPI-W, but is not currently used to calculate COLA. Maloney is a cosponsor of H. Res. 393, a resolution to protect and expand Social Security benefits.

For over 80 years, Social Security has provided guaranteed, inflation-adjusted benefits, without ever missing a payment. Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for the majority of their income. The program keeps nearly 15 million seniors, 1 million children and 6 million non-elderly adults out of poverty. 

In the absence of a Social Security COLA for 2016, there will be as much as a 52% increase in Medicare premiums and higher deductibles for some 7.5 million enrollees. This is because the “hold harmless” provision of Medicare law limits dollar increase in premiums to the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security benefit.  Since there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment for 2016, the hold harmless provision is preventing any increase in premiums for about 70 percent of enrollees. However, by law Medicare must still cover its costs. This means the remaining 30 percent of enrollees, not subject to the hold harmless provision, must shoulder the entire shortfall.

According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services those affected by the premium increase include new 2016 Part B enrollees, enrollees who do not receive a Social Security benefit check, and enrollees with high incomes who are subject to the income-related premium adjustment.  Dual Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries, for whom State Medicaid programs pay the full premium, may also be affected. About 30 percent of Part B enrollees are in these categories.