Click here to send an email to your Congressman and help TRTA keep your premiums from increasing!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has received several phone calls and emails regarding the recent announcement that Medicare Part B premiums may increase in 2016. While the Wall Street Journal has reported that 70 to 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will see no change from the standard $104.90 monthly rate, it is important for our members who do not receive Social Security benefits to be aware of how they may be impacted.

Medicare Part B participants who do not receive Social Security could see their premiums increase from the current $104.90 monthly rate to approximately $159.30. The best way to avoid this significant, unfair increase is to CALL your Congressman.

Send an email to your Congressmen TODAY asking for their help using this link and call them directly using the phone numbers provided at the bottom of this email! To determine who your Congressmen are, please visit this link.

Tell your Congressman that Texas public education retirees should not have to subsidize the premiums of the other 70 percent of Medicare Part B enrollees across the nation!

Will I Be Impacted?
I am Medicare Part B with Social Security
I am Medicare Part B without Social Security
I am Medicare Advantage
You will not be impacted.
Your monthly premiums could increase by more than $50. Call your Congressman today!
Your monthly premiums could increase! Call your Congressman today!

Why is This Happening and What is “Hold Harmless?”

Social Security recipients who are on Medicare must, according to law, have their Part B premiums withheld from their monthly Social Security payments. (This is true for the majority of Medicare Part B participants, but not for those who do not receive Social Security at all. Many public pensioners, including Texas retired public education employees, pay for Medicare Part B out-of-pocket).

The “hold harmless” provision is a rule that Social Security benefits cannot decline for beneficiaries from one year to the next. (This applies to married couples earning less than $170,000 modified adjusted gross income or individuals earning less than $85,000).

In most years in the month of October, Social Security announces a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the following year for beneficiaries. When a COLA is announced, Medicare can boost Part B premiums, resulting in more money being deducted from people’s COLA-adjusted monthly Social Security benefits, essentially preventing the loss of income brought on by the premium increase.

However, when no COLA is projected (as is the case for 2016), lower income Medicare beneficiaries who receive Social Security (about 70 percent of all beneficiaries) cannot be required to pay any premium increases at all. They are held harmless because their income will not increase for the coming year.

Unfortunately, the projected increases in Medicare Part B expenses for 2016 are so high that Medicare does not expect to be able to absorb the extra costs. By law, Medicare must collect about 25 percent of Part B expenses from beneficiaries. Because Medicare cannot collect those funds from the 70 percent of beneficiaries who are held harmless, it must collect the 25 percent ratio from beneficiaries who are notheld harmless.

Who is Not Held Harmless?

According to the information we have today, those not held harmless from this increase in Medicare B are:

  • New enrollees to Medicare in 2016;
  • People with modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGI) above $85,000 ($170,000 on joint tax returns);
  • Those who pay their Medicare Part B premiums out-of-pocket, either because they haven’t yet begun receiving Social Security benefits or will never receive Social Security benefits.

Ninety-five percent of Texas public school employees do not pay into the federal Social Security program! This means potentially hundreds of thousands of TRS Texas retirees could be impacted by this premium increase! (People with low incomes who have their premiums paid by their state are also not held harmless, but this means state budgets would take the financial hit).

How Much Could Medicare Part B Premiums Increase?

The prediction is that Medicare Part B participants who are not held harmless would pay 52 percent more in Part B premiums in 2016. New enrollees and Medicare beneficiaries who aren’t on Social Security — and who do not have high incomes — would no longer pay $104.90 per month in 2016 but $159.30.

People in the higher income premium groups would have similar percentage hikes, from a range of $146.90 to $335.70 a month in 2015 to a range of $223 to $509.80 in 2016.

If all Medicare beneficiaries were treated equally, regardless of income or the hold harmless provision, the monthly premium would be $120.79.

Of note for Medicare Advantage participants: If you are participating in the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage program, the Medicare B premium increases will hit you as well.

What Can Be Done?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is not able to fix this issue on its own, and must rely upon Congress to take action.

This potential premium increase affects public sector retirees disproportionately!Much like the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), it is unfair.

Now is the time for our members to reach out to their Congressional members and tell them that Texas public education retirees should not have to subsidize the premiums of the other 70 percent of Medicare Part B enrollees across the nation!

We need your help reaching out to your Texas Congressional members today!

Find your Congressman’s phone number at the bottom of this email and call them. Send your Congressman an email here. To determine who your Congressmen are, please visit this link.

As this is an issue that has occurred in the past (in 2010 and 2011), Congress should fix the problem permanently. Legislation was created in 2009 to address this issue (H.R. 3631), but failed to receive a vote in the Senate despite passing the House by a vote of 406 to 18.

Let’s tell our Congressmen to address this issue NOW.

Legislation must be filed and passed this year to prevent exorbitant Medicare Part B premium increases for people who do not receive Social Security!

Thank You

Protecting your health care benefits is TRTA’s top priority, and your participation can make all of the difference. Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to keep informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Texas Congressional Delegation Phone Numbers

To determine who your Congressmen are, please visit this link.

Texas U.S. Senators

Name Party Phone
Ted Cruz R 202-224-5922
John Cornyn R 202-224-2934

 

Texas U.S. Representatives

District
Name
Party
Phone
1
R
202-225-3035
2
R
202-225-6565
3
R
202-225-4201
4
R
202-225-6673
5
R
202-225-3484
6
R
202-225-2002
7
R
202-225-2571
8
R
202-225-4901
9
D
202-225-7508
10
R
202-225-2401
11
R
202-225-3605
12
R
202-225-5071
13
R
202-225-3706
14
R
202-225-2831
15
D
202-225-2531
16
D
202-225-4831
17
R
202-225-6105
18
D
202-225-3816
19
R
202-225-4005
20
D
202-225-3236
21
R
202-225-4236
22
R
202-225-5951
23
R
202-225-4511
24
R
202-225-6605
25
R
202-225-9896
26
R
202-225-7772
27
R
202-225-7742
28
D
202-225-1640
29
D
202-225-1688
30
D
202-225-8885
31
R
202-225-3864
32
R
202-225-2231
33
D
202-225-9897
34
D
202-225-9901
35
D
202-225-4865
36
R
202-225-1555