Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) yesterday helped pass the Medicare Premium Fairness Act to protect seniors from increases in their 2010 Medicare Part B premiums. The bill, H.R. 3631, passed the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon by a strong bipartisan vote of 406 to 18 and has earned the support of AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Alliance for Retired Americans, and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

“Rising costs are one of the most serious problems with our current health system, but we can’t pass those costs along to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Congressman Himes. “This bill will help ensure seniors and disabled citizens have access to the health care they need at a price they can afford.”


Currently, 42 million seniors and people with disabilities are enrolled in Medicare Part B.  The standard Part B premium for 2009 is $96.40 per month. By law, the premium is calculated each year to cover approximately 25 percent of the cost of the Medicare program.

Under existing law, Social Security checks, which are tied to cost-of-living estimates, would not increase to help cover the premium increase.  However, because of rising health care costs, Medicare premiums are expected to go up. This bill helps protect seniors who depend on Social Security from having to choose between paying Medicare premiums and buying food or medicine.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the bill at $2.8 billion for 2010.  It meets PAYGO requirements and is fully paid for by reducing the Medicare Improvement Fund, a non-controversial set-aside fund in Medicare.