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Doubled Insurance Premiums Bring a Double Gut Punch to Idahoans

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May 20, 2008

Boise, ID – Doubled Medicare health insurance premiums have felt like a double punch in the gut to Idahoans over 65, who are seeing out-of-pocket medical costs rise too, along with food, utilities and gas. As Congress faces a tight deadline that could lead to another increase in Medicare premiums, AARP Idaho Chapter president Peggy Munson says continually charging more does nothing to address the underlying issue of medical costs rising out of control.

"We feel that raising the rates is just a Band-Aid solution, and that they really need to take a good look at the way they pay things out."

Munson says rising consumer prices and a slowing economy make this a bad time to raise premiums again.

"It's going to be so hard for some people to keep paying the increase in those premiums, along with everything else that's happening."

Medicare "Part B" premiums have more than doubled since 2000. Recent increases have been linked to higher reimbursement rates for doctors, and Munson says doctors do deserve to be paid fairly, to encourage them to accept Medicare patients. She says a quality-of-service system linked to doctor payments is what a Congressional report recommends as part of the solution. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo serves on a committee that is taking up the issue.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ID