Healthcare Tips

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Americans To Lose Medicare Premium Assistance, Unless Congress Acts Immediately

May 21, 2017

A federal program that pays the Medicare Part B premium for low-income people with Medicare will end on September 30 unless Congress extends the program.

"Congress must not turn its back on older and disabled Americans with low incomes who depend on Medicare premium support to allow them to afford Medicare," said Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a national consumer group. "Without premium assistance, some poor Americans with Medicare will drop their critical Medicare outpatient coverage altogether, or go without essentials to pay for it."

The standard monthly Medicare Part B premium is currently $93.50 but expected to rise in 2008. Medicare Part B covers services such as doctors' visits, laboratory tests, and outpatient care.

Nearly 263,000 older and disabled Americans, with an annual income of $12,504 - $14,028 ($16,680 - $18,720 for a couple) in 2007, and assets below $4,000 ($6,000 for a couple) in most states, will lose their Medicare premium support when the Qualified Individual-1 (QI-1) program expires on September 30. The QI-1 program is one of three Medicare Savings Programs that helps low-income people with Medicare lower their out-of-pocket health care costs.

People enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program automatically receive "extra help," the federal subsidy that helps pay for the Medicare drug benefit available through private plans. QI-1 is a block grant program administered by state Medicaid programs and was created when the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 was passed.

Medicare Rights Center (MRC) is the largest independent source of health care information and assistance in the United States for people with Medicare. Founded in 1989, MRC helps older adults and people with disabilities get good, affordable health care. Founded in 1989, MRC helps older adults and people with disabilities get high-quality, affordable health care.