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Medicare Rights Applauds Implementation of Key BENES Act Provisions

November 3, 2022  
•  Press Releases

Washington DC—The Medicare Rights Center applauds the publication of final rules implementing key provisions of the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act.  

Signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, these landmark policies update Medicare enrollment for the first time in over 50 years to streamline access to care.

A long-time priority for Medicare Rights, the bipartisan BENES Act was introduced in the 116th Congress by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Todd Young (R-IN) and by Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), and the late Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued proposed rules in April. Medicare Rights applauds CMS for meaningfully considering and incorporating stakeholder feedback. The agency’s revisions will ensure more people can experience timely Medicare coverage and enrollments.

“Thanks to the BENES Act final rules, millions of Americans will be able to more easily connect with their earned Medicare benefits,” said Medicare Rights Center President Fred Riccardi. “We are profoundly grateful to the bill’s champions and supporters for their unwavering, years-long commitment to these vital Medicare improvements.”

The rules modernize Medicare in several important ways:

  • The BENES Act eliminates the months-long wait for coverage that occurs when people enroll during the General Enrollment Period (GEP) or in the later months of their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Beginning in 2023, Medicare will begin the month after enrollment.
  • It further reduces barriers to care by giving Medicare the authority to establish Part B Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) for “exceptional circumstances.” Already a flexibility within Medicare Advantage and Part D, CMS can use this critical tool to facilitate Part B enrollments, starting in January 2023.
  • Under this authority, CMS finalized several SEPs that will take effect next year, allowing qualifying individuals to enroll in Part B without a late enrollment penalty or a gap in coverage. The new SEPs will help people who missed their initial enrollment because of a government-declared disaster or emergency or due to misinformation from an employer or health plan, as well as people leaving incarceration, and individuals whose Medicaid coverage is terminated.

The Medicare Rights Center welcomes these and other changes in the final rule that will strengthen beneficiary health and economic security. We look forward to working with our partners and with policymakers to build on these historic advancements.

Read the final rule here.

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About Medicare Rights
The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities.

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