Democrats and Republicans in Congress have reached agreement on a budget deal, which fixes a glitch in federal law that would have required more than 15 million people with Medicare to pay 52 percent higher premiums as well as higher deductibles in 2016. The deal is reported to increase the 2016 Medicare base premium rate by 14 percent to $120 a month, plus a $3 a month surcharge, for about 30 percent of people with Medicare.
The deal also includes a $20 increase in the Part B deductible in 2016, far better than the $76 increase that otherwise would have been in effect. While most people with Medicare have supplemental coverage that picks up the cost of the deductible, they are likely to see a commensurate increase in their supplemental insurance premium.
The deal is not yet final. It passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. It will go to the Senate for a vote next week.
The budget deal would also extend the solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund by six years and keep 11 million people receiving Social Security disability benefits from seeing a 20 percent cut in Social Security income.
Projections are that the Medicare fix will cost about $7.5 billion dollars. To pay for it, Congress plans to extend a 2 percent cut in Medicare provider payments. It also plans to even out payments to doctors so that rates do not vary based on where services are delivered. As a result, payments for outpatient services performed in hospitals will decrease.