Medicare’s “hold-harmless” provision is designed to ensure that beneficiaries will not have a reduction in their monthly Social Security benefit, by ensuring that the dollar increase in the Part B Medicare premium cannot be more than the dollar increase of a beneficiary’s monthly Social Security benefit. Certain beneficiaries are statutorily excluded from the “hold-harmless” provision, particularly those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (“dual-eligibles”) who make up two-thirds of the excluded group, as well as new beneficiaries, high-income beneficiaries, and Medicare beneficiaries who do not receive Social Security. This could be especially harmful for Medicare-eligible individuals who delay Social Security until a later age and could be hit with this increase.
This issue also came up in 2010 with a smaller projected increase for those excluded from the hold-harmless group. Similarly, legislation was introduced in both chambers, and while the House overwhelmingly passed their bill by a vote of 406 to 18, the Senate never took up the legislation and the premium and deductible increases went into effect in 2011.