NTEU is working to address a Medicare issue that is expected to affect some federal retirees in 2017.
Under current law, there is a special provision for Social Security beneficiaries, called the “hold harmless rule,” that ensures that the increase in Medicare Part B premiums is limited to the dollar increase in Social Security benefits. While the 2017 Social Security and federal pension Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and Medicare premiums are not yet known, it is expected that the 2017 COLA will be quite low (perhaps as low as 0.2%). Under the hold harmless rule, approximately 70% of Medicare beneficiaries would have their monthly Part B premium increase capped at the increase in their monthly Social Security benefit. However, approximately 30% of Medicare beneficiaries are expected to face significant increases in Part B premiums.
As you may recall from last year, these affected Medicare beneficiaries will include federal retirees. As examples, there are federal retirees who do not collect Social Security payments because they retired under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), or because they have not yet enrolled under the Social Security program, but are already enrolled in Medicare. New Medicare enrollees in 2017 will also be affected.
NTEU is urging that action be taken to protect federal retirees, and other seniors, by extending the hold harmless rule to them before the new year. NTEU has joined with other national organizations calling for Congress to swiftly address this looming issue, sending a joint letter to the congressional committees of jurisdiction.
I will keep you updated on any developments in this area, including reporting on the 2017 COLA.