Clinton Blasts GOP for Failing to Avert Medicare Cost Increases

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is pressuring GOP leaders in Congress to strike a deal with Democrats to avert the double-digit premium increases that will hit millions of Medicare enrollees next year.

“At a time when out-of-pocket medical costs are already rising, we cannot afford to let Republican obstructionism pile additional costs on our seniors,” Clinton wrote in a statement Friday, one day after Congress missed a key deadline to stave off the 52-percent increases.

“I urge the Republican candidates for president to call on their congressional majority to end the games and protect our seniors,” she said, adding that she supports Democratic efforts to “try to resolve this quickly.”

Clinton is the first presidential candidate to weigh in on the premium hikes on 8 million Medicare Part B enrollees next year if Congress fails to act. Lawmakers have less than a month in session before the end of 2015, and the administration has said it requires about one month in advance to process the payments.

The rising premiums, the result of a quirk in federal law, will go into effect in 2016 unless Congress takes action. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had said they have limited options for halting the premium hikes without authorization from lawmakers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had spent weeks trying to strike a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), but has made clear the stalks are stalled. Pelosi had sought congressional action before Thursday, which would have made it cheaper to pass the bill under budgetary rules.