Only in Washington could a 14% increase in prescription drug premiums for seniors be "spun" to sound like good news. That’s CMS’s strategy in announcing next year’s Part D premium hike. The administration’s logic goes something like this: since Part D isn’t costing as much as we first predicted seniors shouldn’t really mind double-digit premium hikes.

Here are the basics on the 2008 Part D premium: starting January 1 seniors’ average Part D premium for basic coverage will increase from about $22 this year to $25 next year. What CMS doesn't tell you is that in addition to this premium hike, beneficiaries will also face higher deductibles and a growing “doughnut hole” which will remain unchecked as long as healthcare costs continue to skyrocket.

By 2014, the Medicare's Trustees expect monthly Part D premiums to increase to $64.26 , the deductible to rise 75% to $457, and the $2,850 “doughnut hole” to become a yawning gap of almost $4,983.75.

CMS is also quick to remind everyone that if seniors don’t want to pay more they can just go shopping for another plan. As if choosing a drug plan for each of the first two years hasn’t been confusing enough!