House Passes Walorski Bill to Protect Seniors from Medicare Penalties, Coverage Gaps

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

House Passes Walorski Bill to Protect Seniors from Medicare Penalties, Coverage Gaps

Bipartisan BENES Act Will Simplify Medicare Enrollment Process, Help Beneficiaries Avoid Costly Lifetime Penalties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today applauded House passage of her bipartisan legislation to simplify the Medicare enrollment process and protect seniors from lifetime late-enrollment penalties and coverage gaps.

“As more and more Americans reach Medicare age, it’s clear the enrollment process is overly complex, with simple mistakes resulting in costly penalties,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “We need to simplify the process and improve education to ensure seniors have access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve. These commonsense reforms will protect Medicare beneficiaries from unnecessary late-enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage, and unexpected health care bills. I’m grateful to have worked across the aisle to pass this bipartisan bill, and I hope it reaches the president’s desk soon.”

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor in support of the legislation is available here.

Last year, Walorski introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 2477) with U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Calif.), and U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.). The BENES Act passed the House on Tuesday by unanimous voice vote.

BACKGROUND

Seniors who miss deadlines to enroll in Medicare face lifetime late-enrollment penalties of 10 percent for every year they are not enrolled in Part B. According to the Congressional Research Service, approximately 764,000 Americans are currently paying these late-enrollment penalties, increasing their Medicare Part B premiums by an average of nearly 30 percent.

The BENES Act would ensure Americans approaching Medicare eligibility receive advance notice about basic Medicare enrollment rules. It would also eliminate needless multi-month coverage gaps in Medicare enrollment periods by requiring that Part B coverage begin during the first month after an individual enrolls, through either the initial enrollment period or general enrollment period.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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