Clinton calls for averting Medicare hikes

Hillary Clinton is joining Hill lawmakers in hand-wringing over a massive Medicare hike expected to hit about a third of seniors next year.

On Friday the Democratic presidential front-runner called on Congress to pass legislation averting an estimated 52 percent hike in Medicare premiums for doctors visits, surgeries and lab tests that will go into effect in January. The problem stems from no cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year due to falling energy prices. That means about two-thirds of seniors can't be hit with Medicare Part B hikes, thus forcing the government to concentrate the cost increases on all the rest.

Members of both parties want to avert the hike, but that will require a bipartisan compromise that will likely be tied to a larger legislative package.

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Clinton called the scheduled hike "outrageous and senseless," saying Congress "must act" to fix the law. She also called on her Republican counterparts seeking the White House to also ask congressional leaders to resolve the issue. None of the GOP candidates have so far said the cost increase should be averted.

"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 said. "I urge the Republican candidates for president to call on their congressional majority to end the games and protect our seniors."

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