While the HEALS Act hasn't passed yet and it is unsure as of this weekend if it will in light of Congress taking a break until Monday, it could contain an extra surprise for Social Security recipients. As The Motley Fool reports, the proposed bill could benefit those who receive assistance from Medicare Part B.
Under the HEALS Act, seniors would have to pay an extra $3 a month for Medicare Part B, but only until the shortfall has been recovered. Despite the mild uptick in the price, it would be less costly than the premium and deductible increases would've been. More than 60 million in the U.S. are covered by Medicare Part B, most of whom are elderly. For that coverage, seniors pay premiums for coverage as well as their deductibles, then the insurance kicks in. The standard premium paid by most seniors is $144.60 a month in 2020. Prices for the service have gone up every year since 1966.
The HEALS Act would stop premiums or deductibles from increasing in 2021. Assuming it passes, which is getting less and less likely, Medicare beneficiaries would avoid substantial increases to both premiums and deductibles, which could be beneficial to recipients amid a global pandemic. This could be especially valuable to Social Security retirees in 2021, since they may only get a small cost-of-living adjustment — if any — given the pandemic.
Granted, it appears that negotiations over the HEALS Act haven't been going spectacularly well. On Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters he was "extremely doubtful" that any progress would be made before Friday, which is when Congress adjourns for a recess. That, of course, would delay any chance at relief for at least several weeks. Meadows had previously said that the two sides were still far away from a deal, though admitted they had made some progress at a Saturday morning meeting.
One of the major sticking points for Democrats is the $600 weekly unemployment benefits, which the GOP-led HEALS Act would cut significantly. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has recently admitted that he'd even consider reinstating the benefits put in place by the CARES Act, so long as President Donald Trump was on board. "Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, who has to sign it into law, and the Democrat, not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I'm prepared to support," McConnell told reporters. "Even if I have some problems with certain parts of it."