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Seniors to spend more on healthcare

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Older people could be spending a greater chunk of their income on healthcare next year, based on a measure of inflation that depends on gas prices. 

Since gas prices are low, most economists predict the federal government will not increase the cost of living adjustment, known as the COLA, for 2016. That means social security beneficiaries will continue to receive the same amount of money next year as they did this year. 

But that doesn't mean healthcare costs, like Medicare Part B premiums will freeze along with the COLA. Claudia Lennhoff, executive director of the Champaign County Health Consumers advocacy group, says that means seniors will have to tighten their belts.

"That's their source of income. That's how they pay their bills. That's how they pay for living expenses. Those expenses continue to go up every year. There is a real increase in what it costs to be able to live....People are having to do more with less."

Whether or not the COLA will increase will be announced tomorrow. The decision on Medicare premiums will come later this fall.

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She previously covered the statehouse for The Daily Line and Law360, and also worked a temporary stint at the political blog Capitol Fax in 2018.