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NAHC to Congress: Permanently Fund Medicare Outreach and Enrollment

Posted on Friday, May 24, 2019 2:10 PM

NAHC has joined with similar minded organizations in asking Congress to permanently fund Medicare outreach and enrollment for low income beneficiaries.  Specifically, NAHC would like Congress to include in the fall “Extenders Package” a provision to make funding permanent for Medicare outreach and enrollment and increase that funding from $36.7 million to $50 million annually.

People with disabilities and low-income seniors are often forced to make trade-offs to the detriment of their health.  Federal outreach and enrollment efforts allow low-income Medicare beneficiaries to access help with prescription drugs and other health benefits they are eligible for.  These seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare generally have annual incomes below $18,735 and non-housing assets of less than $12,890. They need help in affording rising health care costs, but, in many cases, are not getting that needed assistance:

  • Almost 3 million Medicare beneficiaries eligible for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS/Extra Help) are not enrolled. The LIS/Extra help program helps low-income beneficiaries pay for their rising prescription drug costs and is valued by the Social Security Administration at saving beneficiaries an average of $4,900 a year. Improving enrollment in this important program is a critical component toward reducing out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for those who can least afford them.
  • Less than half of eligible low-income beneficiaries receive help for assistance paying Medicare Part B monthly premiums ($135.50 in 2019) through a Medicare Savings Program (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary [QMB] Program, Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary [SLMB] Program, and Qualifying Individual [QI] Program).
  • A rapidly growing Medicare-eligible population, increasing amounts of debt among seniors (especially for medical expenses), and a retiree savings shortfall highlight the increased need for these assistance programs.

NAHC is urging all members of Congress to support permanent, annual funding of $50 million for low-income outreach and enrollment activities.

 Source: NAHC Report

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