There is a spiral-bound notebook on my desk where I keep a running list of ideas for future TimeGoesBy posts. Some of them are terrible ideas I never use (well, mostly). Others are mainstays – such things as updates or threats to Medicare and Social Security that our age group needs to know.
Mostly, the book is a reminder so I won't lose thoughts I had in passing while doing something else, and I add maybe three or four a week. Since election day, however, there are four new, tightly-hand-written pages now that there are deeply worrying potential dangers afoot in Washington, D.C. that will affect Americans of all ages.
I am telling you this in explanation for what is a new kind of post here now and then that will cover two or three unrelated items that seem to me to be important right now as opposed to having a decent shelf life or, sometimes, even being evergreen.
So here goes with the first one.
MEDICARE PART B FOR 2017
As you know, there was no increase in the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the past two years. That means that for most Medicare beneficiaries there was, also, no increase in the premium for Part B which covers expenses for doctors, other outpatient care and durable medical equipment.
Now, due to the measly .3 percent COLA to Social Security for 2017 (which does not begin to cover inflation that most elders experience) an increase in the Part B Medicare premium is allowed.
The increase in the average 2017 Social Security payment is about $5. It will be wiped out for 70 percent of recipients because the Part B premium, which is deducted from the Social Security benefit each month, rises by 3.9 percent from $104.90 to about $109.
High earners will have an even larger increase in the Part B premium as will certain other categories of beneficiaries. You can see more detail at this PBS page.
It's not that I will go hungry or anything drastic, but so many other fixed expenses are increasing in the new year, by up to 10 percent in at least one case, that I will be cutting back and I expect many of you will be doing so too. This has happened every year for the decade I've received a Social Security benefit and I keep wondering in what year it will become a serious hardship.
In addition, the Part B deductible for 2017 will increase from $166 to $183. The Social Security Administration will soon be sending their annual benefit update letter so you will see your new numbers then.
NORMALIZING THE * ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES APACE
As I mentioned last week, it took less that 24 hours after the election results were in for pundits and most of the media to call for giving the president-elect “a chance” - as if we didn't already know what kind of man he is.
As Rohit Chandan, writing at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) on Friday about normalization:
”The danger is that by normalizing Trump—a candidate distinguished by an embrace of political violence and open appeals to ethnic nationalism who boasted of getting away with sexual assaults — these commentators will make racist and sexist bullying an acceptable way to run for public office.”
No kidding. His way of speaking has already brutalized public discourse in general. Here is FAIR's accompanying cartoon laying out the media's excuses for normalization:
Over the past year, Seth Meyers, host of Late Night on NBC-TV, has become my favorite of the late night hosts – I can't stay awake that late but I record his show every night to watch the opening 10 minutes the next day. Meyers is smart, funny and fearless.
Last week, in his “A Closer Look” segment that airs at the top of each show, he pilloried the media and * associates trying to insist * is a normal person. Enjoy.
It is easy, when outrage after outrage is repeated hundreds of times a day in the media, to fall victim to accepting it as normal. Please be vigilant of yourselves and don't let it happen to you.