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Medicaid Part B Premiums Unchanged for 2009

Medicare’s monthly Part-B premium will be unchanged at $96.40 next year for most of the 44 million beneficiaries in the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled. This is the first time in eight years the rate won’t rise. Medicare fees will stay the same partly because the program’s reserves have increased, according to a statement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

This is only the sixth time since Medicare was created in 1965 that rates held steady for two consecutive years, said Rick Foster, Medicare chief actuary. When asked if this had anything to do with the U.S. presidential election in November, Foster said, “There is no political manipulation.” Every rate recommendation made by the chief actuary to Medicare administrators has been accepted without change, Foster said.

“Lawmakers should not use today’s announcement as an excuse to rest,” AARP, the advocacy group for people 50 and older, said in an e-mailed statement. “The average 73-year- old in Medicare has seen his or her premium double since joining the program. Americans old and young continue to struggle with skyrocketing health-care costs.”