"Democrats want to expand Social Security and Medicare," said one advocate. "Republicans want to cut, privatize, and ultimately end both programs."
September 28, 2022

Progressives cheered Tuesday after the Biden administration announced that Medicare beneficiaries will see their Part B premiums and deductibles decrease in 2023, the first time in more than a decade that seniors and people with disabilities will pay less for health services and medical equipment not covered by Part A than they did the year before.

According to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the standard monthly premium for Part B enrollees will be $164.90 in 2023, a decrease of $5.20 from 2022. The annual deductible for all recipients will be $226, a decrease of $7 from this year.

As CNN reported: "The reduction, which was signaled earlier this year by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, comes after a large spike in 2022 premiums. Medicare beneficiaries had to contend with a 14.5% increase in Part B premiums for 2022, which raised the monthly payments for those in the lowest income bracket to $170.10, up from $148.50 in 2021."

Social Security Works president Nancy Altman called the announcement "excellent news for seniors and people with disabilities who receive Medicare, most of whom have these premiums deducted directly from their Social Security payments."

"Importantly, Medicare beneficiaries will now get to keep all of next year's Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)," Altman continued. "In past years, rising Medicare premiums have often consumed most or even all of the COLA increase for many beneficiaries. But next year, thanks to Medicare's wise decision to limit coverage of the ineffective and wildly overpriced drug Aduhelm, that will not happen."

The White House received criticism for not immediately reversing this year's Aduhelm-induced Medicare premium hike after federal health officials opted to restrict coverage of the exorbitantly priced and potentially dangerous Alzheimer's drug and ignored Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) call to provide refunds to those affected, so Tuesday's long-awaited announcement was welcomed by progressives.

During a speech highlighting his administration's move to lower Medicare Part B premiums, President Joe Biden also celebrated last month's passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process. The new law includes a provision empowering Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain prescription medications directly with pharmaceutical corporations, which is overwhelmingly popular with voters across party lines.

In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who earlier this year urged the Biden administration to take action to reduce Medicare Part B premiums, said that he is "very pleased that older Americans will see lower healthcare costs next year."

"This announcement, in addition to Democrats' work with the Inflation Reduction Act, is going to put more money in Americans' pockets when they need it most," said Wyden. "It's important to remember that Part B premiums almost increased by record amounts due to a single high-cost prescription drug. That's why steps like Medicare negotiation are so critical to hold down costs."

As Altman pointed out, "Every single Republican in Congress voted against the IRA."

"Indeed," she continued, "they are promising to overturn it at the behest of their Big Pharma donors if they take control of Congress."

In his afternoon remarks from the Rose Garden, Biden also spoke about Social Security, contrasting GOP plans to slash benefits with Democratic plans to protect and expand them.

"Republicans are clear about their intentions to cut our earned benefits," Altman said, referring to plans put forth by Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

"The difference between the two parties couldn't be starker," she added. "Democrats want to expand Social Security and Medicare; Republicans want to cut, privatize, and ultimately end both programs."

Republished from Common Dreams (Kenny Stancil, staff writer) under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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