The House of Representatives has quit town until July 6, while the Senate continues in session through June 30. Everyone gets a break for the 4th of July weekend.  

The Social Security program trustees issued a report earlier this week projecting that Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 0.2% cost of living increase in their benefits next year. according to a USA Today report.

There was no cost of living adjustment for 2016. The upshot was that under a modified federal hold harmless law federal and postal annuitants under the FERS program, who elect Part B, saw no Medicare Part B premium increase while federal and postal annuitants under the CERS program, who elect Part B, saw a 16% increase in that premium.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of the new Social Security trustees report states that

Those who are paying the standard $121.80 a month for Medicare Part B this year [the CSRS annuitants and people who recently joined Medicare] would be charged $149 a month in 2017 if the trustees’ predictions come to pass. [The article does not explain how the FERS annuitants would be affected, but there would be a Medicare Part B premium increase.]

Higher earners would pay more. The trustees project individuals earning between $85,001 and $107,000 and couples earning between $170,001 and $214,000 would have their 2016 monthly premiums rise from $170.50 a person this year to about $204.40 in 2017. For those earning more than $214,000, or $428,000 for couples, the projected increase is to about $467.20 a month, from $389.00 in 2016.

Medicare Part B deductibles and Part D premiums also would be affected.

If the trustees’ predictions come to pass, all Medicare beneficiaries will see their annual Part B deductibles rise from $166 in 2016 to $204 in 2017. “Everyone on Part B will be liable for the full increase,” says [Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and an expert on Medicare at the Kaiser Family Foundation]. 

The report projects that monthly Medicare Part D premiums—which cover prescription drug costs—will rise from $34.10 to $40.59, while the annual Part D deductible will jump from $360 to $400. Those increases will apply to all Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

These changes are important to the FEHBP because the Program covers a large cadre of Medicare Part B eligible annuitants.

CMS has created a new HIPAA administrative simplication website — no doubt in celebration (?) of the law’s upcoming 20th anniversary of enactment in September. My how time flies.

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