Medicare Premiums

Will Go Up 13 Percent

Medicare patients will pay 13 percent more out of their Social Security checks for premiums in 2006, the third consecutive rise of more than 10 percent, the government said yesterday.

The increase, to $88.50 a month, means older Americans will be paying almost twice what they did in 2000 to cover visits to the doctor. The amount seniors pay out of pocket for hospital visits will rise 4.4 percent to $952. The average Social Security benefit is $955 a month, and Medicare's chief actuary expects it to rise 3 percent next year.

The 2006 premium increase for the 42 million elderly and disabled Americans under the program is greater than the 12 percent Medicare's trustees predicted in their annual report in March and will amount to about $5 billion. Costs for patients have climbed 33 percent since 2003, consuming 40 percent of increases in Social Security benefits, the consumer group AARP said July 28 in a report.

House Intelligence Panel

Wants CIA Report Public

The leaders of the House intelligence committee want CIA Director Porter J. Goss to provide a public version of his agency's hard-hitting report on the failures leading up to Sept. 11, 2001.

In a letter made public yesterday, Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), and the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), asked Goss to reveal as much of the report from his inspector general as possible.

Running hundreds of pages, the report, which was sent to Congress last month, calls for disciplinary reviews for former CIA director George J. Tenet and current and former officials who were involved in faulty intelligence efforts before the attacks.

U.S. Won't Fund U.N.

Population Program

For the fourth consecutive year, the Bush administration has decided to withhold funding from the U.N. Population Fund, saying the agency contributes to China's "coercive abortion" program.

The administration decision was disclosed in a letter from Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns to key senators. Congress had appropriated $34 million for the program, but gave President Bush the authority to decline to spend the money. China has denied using any coercive measures in its population control efforts.

Judge's Order Appealed

On Indian Trusts

The government asked a federal appeals court to rescind U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth's plan requiring the Interior Department to account for billions of dollars in lost royalties American Indians say they are owed. They argued that the accounting would cost $12 billion -- exceeding the cost and scope of what Congress has said was acceptable. They asked the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to allow Interior to continue with its accounting effort.

-- From News Services