CMS has announced next year's Part D premiums for seniors.  The 12% increase will hike the average monthly premium to $28 for standard coverage in 2009.   CMS says seniors should  be glad this is less than their original estimate 5 years ago which said Part D premiums would be even higher.  Gee, thanks. This is from the CMS Press Release:
The estimated average monthly premium for 2009 of roughly $28 for basic coverage is far below the original estimate for 2009 of $44.12, which was made at the time the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) was enacted in 2003.  
CMS Acting Administrator, Kerry Weems, also offered this not so subtle reminder to seniors that they better plan on shopping for plans again this year since drug insurers may (read that will) be making changes which could dramatically effect coverage.
"Of course, individual plans' premiums and benefits may change. Given their past record of making smart choices, I expect beneficiaries will continue to compare their plan options in the upcoming enrollment period based on cost, coverage and convenience." 
 Lastly CMS says:
Average plan bids have increased at roughly the same rate as drug costs.
And that's part of the problem. Healthcare costs systemwide have been skyrocketing with no end in sight, not just in Medicare but nationwide.  That's one reason we continue to advocate the need for national healthcare reform and drug price negotiation for seniors in Medicare in the short term.  Establishing Medicare as the collective buyer of prescription drugs-rather than thousands of individual private plans-would better harness the purchasing power of Medicare's 43 million beneficiaries and provide substantially lower prices for seniors.