Medicare Part B and Part D premiums to change

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

            In 2009, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries will receive a 5.8% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).  This means that nearly 55 million Americans will see an increase in their monthly benefits, the largest increase since 1982.  


          The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced premium changes to Medicare Part B and D.  Medicare Part B covers a portion of the cost of physicians' services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.  The standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $96.40 in 2009, the same as the Part B premium for 2008. This is the first year since 2000 that there was no increase in the standard premium over the prior year.


          As Medicare's Part D prescription drug program enters its fourth year, program costs remain lower than originally expected. The average monthly premium that beneficiaries will pay for standard Part D coverage in 2009 will be $28.  This is about 37 percent lower than originally projected when the benefit was established in 2003.  The cost of premiums rose an average of $3.  In each state, beneficiaries will have the option of enrolling in at least one plan that has a monthly premium of $20.


In other recent news, December 2, 2008 marked the long awaited public grand opening of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), showcasing new exhibits and amenities to those visiting Washington.  Each year, over three million people visit the U.S. Capitol Complex.  At nearly 580,000 square feet, the CVC is the largest project in the Capitol’s 215-year history and is approximately three quarters the size of the Capitol itself. The entire facility is located underground on the east side of the Capitol so as not to detract from the appearance of the Capitol grounds.


          The CVC will feature several exhibitions of items that were previously not available for visitors.  Directly in front of the exhibition entrance stands the original plaster model for the Statue of Freedom, used to cast the bronze statue that sits atop the Capitol dome.  Also on display, is the catafalque, or bier, that supported President Lincoln’s casket as he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in 1865.  It has been used in every lying-in-state funeral ceremony in the Capitol since then. 


          The exhibit History of Congress and the Capitol features artifacts, documents, images, and videos that bring to life the fascinating story of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  The exhibit includes artifacts and documents illustrating John Quincy Adams’s struggles to outlaw slavery, women’s efforts to win voting privileges, and the changes new technologies have brought to the workings of Congress. 


          The CVC also provides several new visitor-friendly amenities, including a 530-person restaurant and two 250-person theaters, which show a 13-minute educational film.  Previously, only 5 public restrooms were available in the Capitol.  The CVC has 26 restrooms and 10 family restrooms to better accommodate visitors.   The CVC is a valuable new asset to the U.S. Capitol Complex and will provide visitors with greater accessibility and a unique opportunity to experience the U.S. Capitol, Congress, and American History in a new way.  For more information, browse their website at www.visitthecapitol.gov.


Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you.  You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA   24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.