Walorski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Medicare Late Enrollment Penalties

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Walorski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Medicare Late Enrollment Penalties

WASHINGTON – With a growing number of Americans aging into Medicare, U.S. Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) recently introduced a bipartisan bill to simplify complex Medicare enrollment rules. The Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 2477) would eliminate needless gaps in health care coverage and help prevent lifetime, late-enrollment penalties.

“As more and more Americans reach Medicare age, we need to simplify the Part B enrollment process and improve education and outreach to seniors,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “These bipartisan reforms will protect seniors from unnecessary late enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage, and unexpected health care bills.”

“For too many seniors, enrolling in Medicare Part B is a confusing process that can lead to expensive penalties and higher health care costs,” Congressman Ruiz said. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan BENES Act to ensure older Americans understand the Medicare Part B program, helping them avoid higher premiums or gaps in their health care coverage. This critical legislation will prevent older Americans from falling through the cracks and not getting the health care that they need. As a physician, I will continue to fight for our seniors’ access to quality, affordable health care they have earned and deserve.”

“With more than 10,000 Americans turning age 65 every day and becoming eligible for Medicare, we need to simplify and improve the enrollment process. The BENES Act would inform people new to Medicare about their responsibilities, helping to prevent costly penalties and eliminate gaps in coverage,” Senator Casey said. “By working in a bipartisan, commonsense fashion we can keep more dollars in seniors’ pockets and ensure they receive the care they need when they need it.”

“Seniors who miss the sign-up deadline for Medicare Part B face onerous penalties that persist for the rest of their lives. The BENES Act will make the sign-up process more efficient and friendly to our seniors so they have the financial backstop needed to access quality medical care,” Senator Young said.

BACKGROUND

Today, nearly 760,000 Americans are paying these penalties, increasing their Medicare Part B premiums by an average of almost 30 percent.

The BENES Act would direct the federal government to provide advance notice to individuals approaching Medicare eligibility about basic Medicare enrollment rules, filling a long-standing gap in education for older adults and people with disabilities. The bill would also eliminate needless multi-month coverage gaps in Medicare enrollment periods and align Medicare Part B enrollment periods with those in private Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans.

The BENES Act is supported by more than 85 organizations, including AARP, AHIP, BlueCross BlueShield Association and Medicare Rights Center.

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

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