Senator Jon Tester is sponsoring legislation to protect 50,000 Montana seniors from experiencing dramatic Medicare Part B rate hikes next year.

Without legislative action, seniors who do not deduct Medicare premiums from their Social Security checks will see a whopping 52 percent increase in their Medicare Part B premiums.

“Most Montana seniors live on a fixed income and they can’t afford to see Medicare premiums go through the roof,” Tester said.  “This bill protects seniors from harmful and unfair premium hikes while also ensuring they have access to affordable health care.”

Federal law prohibits Social Security beneficiaries from seeing a net decrease in their benefits from one year to the next.  With no cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security in 2016, the 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who pay their premiums through automatic deductions from their Social Security checks cannot see their Medicare premiums increase next year because it would effectively reduce their net benefits.

That means the remaining 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who do not have their Medicare premiums deducted from Social Security checks must shoulder the entire cost of the increase in Medicare premiums. These Medicare beneficiaries include new Social Security enrollees, new Medicare enrollees, seniors who do not receive Social Security, and seniors dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.