MEDICARE PREMIUMS: Voting 406 for and 18 against, the House on Sept. 24 sent the Senate a bill (HR 3631) to freeze Medicare premiums in 2010 at the current level of about $96.00 per month. Medicare premiums are deducted from Social Security checks, and the rationale of this bill is that since there will be no Social Security inflation adjustment in 2010, there should be no rise in Medicare premiums.

Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and other outpatient services. Medicare Part A (hospital costs) carries no premium for most participants. Seniors who opt for Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (prescription drugs) pay premiums to insurance firms.

Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said this is "not the most important bill that we're going to face in the health-care area. That's coming up very soon." But it is important "for those of us who have always supported the Medicare program...."

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., objected to the bill's freezing Medicare premiums for individuals earning $85,000 or more. "At a time of...fiscal challenge, do we say to Ross Perot, we feel your pain and so we are going to exempt you from an increase?"

A yes vote was to pass the bill.


MINNESOTA Voting yes: Walz, Kline (MN),

Paulsen, McCollum, Ellison, Bachmann, Peterson,


Voting no: None

Not voting: None

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