By Rebecca Fending
Although it had previously been reported that seniors may be snubbed in the second round of stimulus checks, now it seems retirees may actually be the beneficiaries of a surprise bonus in the way of freezing Medicare costs in 2021.
The HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools) Act is the most recent Republican-led stimulus bill. The primary purpose of the proposed bill is to help the country re-open and recover financially after essentially shutting down for months on end during the pandemic. The HEALS Act would include a $1,200 check for all eligible people, similar to what many folks received during the first round of stimulus.
The proposed “deadline” for the bill is today, August 7, before Congress goes on recess. According to Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell, it’s unlikely that the bill will be signed before end of day, which will stall the bill by another several weeks. The wait may be extended yet again, but the benefits will reach into next year.
The major cause in stalling any decisive movement is due to the GOP’s insistence on cutting the $600 weekly bonus on unemployment checks, a Democrat-instated part of the previous CARES Act. Though McConnell has stated that he’s willing to work with Democrats on keeping the $600, it’s unclear whether this will help the bill be signed into action any sooner.
How will the new stimulus specifically help seniors?
Although the HEALS Act won’t assist seniors by giving them an extra chunk of change, it will keep costs of Medicare Part B from rising next year, 2021. The plan for seniors living on social security is to raise the monthly cost of Medicare Part B by $3 in order to keep premium and deductible costs from rising in the new year.
Although this price increase may seem largely unproductive, or even counterproductive, pooling three extra dollars each month from the 60 million seniors currently on Medicare is meant to protect senior wallets from the typically increasing monthly costs that have been implemented each year since 1966. According to The Motley Fool, Medicare premium costs rose by a whopping $9.10 from 2019 to 2020. A temporary and immediate smaller raise in costs now would promise a freeze on Medicare Part B monthly costs for the entirety of 2021.
As seniors have not received any substantial financial help for cost-of-living during the pandemic, the hope is that this small change will have a big payoff later by protecting Social Security recipients from the crippling rise of healthcare costs.