It may be one of the government's best-kept secrets - programs that pay your Medicare Part B premiums. Yet despite the dramatic climb in Medicare Part B premiums over the past five years, only one out of three eligible low-income seniors receive benefits from the "Medicare Savings Programs," according to a report from the National Academy of Social Insurance. The programs pay the Medicare Part B premium (a savings this year of $93.50 per month). In addition, if your income is low enough to qualify, a second program also pays the $131.00 Part B deductible and co-insurance costs.
As Medicare costs climb, these programs are becoming increasingly valuable, especially for seniors of modest means like Notch Babies, who find their Social Security woefully inadequate to pay for far more rapidly growing health care costs. TSCL believes many Notch Babies, especially those who rely on Social Security for most or all of their income, may qualify. Seniors with incomes no greater than $1,169 (individuals) or $1,560 (couples) in 2007 should look into the program by checking your local department of Social Services, or local Area Agency on Aging.
We are happy to report that Notch Reform is continuing to receive strong support in the new Congress. Representative Jo Ann Emerson (MO) reintroduced her two versions of Notch correction legislation. One bill (H.R. 288) would provide an improved monthly benefit for Notch Babies. A second bill (H.R. 287) would allow a tax credit for the Medicare premiums paid by Notch Babies. Congresswoman Emerson, who is starting her 11th year in the House of Representatives, has supported ending the Notch inequity as long as she has served.
The "Notch Fairness Act" (H.R. 368) was also re-introduced by Representative Ralph Hall (TX) and is quickly picking up co-sponsors each week. "The Notch Fairness Act" would allow Notch Babies their choice of a higher monthly benefit or a lump - sum of $5,000 payable in four annual installments. The legislation would allow eligible survivors of Notch Babies, persons who receive Social Security benefits based on the account of a Notch Baby, to receive up to 100% of the benefit payable to the deceased.
Your letters, phone calls, faxes and email make the difference in helping us to generate support for passage. Please help us to continue building support for passage this year, by contacting your Representative.
Sources: "Improving the Medicare Savings Programs," National Academy of Social Insurance, February, 2007. "Medicare Savings Programs 2007 Income Limits," Medicare Rights Center, February 2007.