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BENES Act Provisions Pass, Priorities for New Administration

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In December, key provisions of the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act were signed into law as part of a comprehensive legislative package. The enacted policies are a long sought, signature initiative of the Medicare Rights Center. They will update Medicare enrollment rules for the first time in over 50 years to end lengthy waits for coverage, expand critical administrative flexibilities, and inform future policymaking. These changes take effect in 2023.  

The sweeping legislation also funds federal government programs, provides some COVID-19 relief, modernizes Medicare and Medicaid rules, and extends essential health care initiatives.  

Medicare Rights applauds passage of the BENES Act and other reforms that will help older adults and people with disabilities live with health and dignity. The organization looks forward to working with the new Congress and administration to further advance these goals in 2021. To that end, Medicare Rights recently submitted a memo to President Biden, outlining its top priorities for his administration.  

Based on more than 30 years of experience, Medicare Rights knows swift action is needed to strengthen Medicare as well as beneficiary health and economic security. Medicare Rights frequently hears from people who are struggling with health care and prescription drug affordability, burdensome Medicare requirements, and systemic inequities. In addition to these longstanding barriers, older adults and people with disabilities—and particularly those of color—have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. 

Recognizing the central role the Biden administration will have in meeting these challenges and shaping Medicare’s future, Medicare Rights’ memo presents opportunities to: 

  • Respond to COVID-19 in ways that prioritize older adults and people with disabilities; 
  • Simplify Medicare enrollment to ensure active, informed, and meaningful choice; 
  • Reduce barriers to care by making coverage more available, accessible, and affordable; and 
  • Address disparities and inequities to improve health care and coverage for all. 

These recommendations are not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, they are designed to offer a clear, actionable plan to strengthen Medicare. In the coming weeks, Medicare Rights will share aligned legislative priorities with the 117th Congress. Subscribe to Medicare Watch for Medicare policy news at www.medicarerights.org/newsletters

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