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CMS Extends Important Relief Opportunity, Creates Permanent Fix for those Affected

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a year-long extension, through September 30, 2019, of a critical relief pathway for current and former Marketplace enrollees who mistakenly delayed Medicare enrollment. The agency also agreed to develop a more permanent solution for people who are affected.

Under this policy, people who are eligible for Medicare and have Marketplace coverage can apply to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty. Those who have already transitioned to Medicare can request that any Part B late enrollment penalties they may have received be reduced or eliminated.

The year-long extension is welcome news to those who are eligible but have not yet learned about or successfully accessed this opportunity, as well as those who are currently relying on incomplete or inaccurate federal materials to understand how the Marketplaces and Medicare interact and make an informed enrollment choice. Importantly, CMS’s decision to clarify that there is no time limit on the availability of equitable relief for those who are eligible will allow those affected to apply for that relief at any point in the future.

As recently discussed, the Medicare Rights Center recently joined nearly 80 national and state organizations in urging CMS to take these steps. We applaud the agency’s decision to heed the call of consumer advocates, insurers, and health care providers who agreed these changes were necessary to improve the health and economic security of people with Medicare and their families.

Medicare Rights looks forward to working with our agency partners, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), local Social Security Offices, and others to help people access this critical relief.

For more information about equitable relief for Marketplace enrollees and how to apply, see Medicare Rights’ online resource, Medicare Interactive, and:

  • Read the Fact Sheet updated by CMS
  • Read the Social Security Agency’s Emergency Message reflecting these policy changes
  • Call the Medicare Rights Center’s free national helpline at 1-800-333-4114
  • Call the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-877-839-2675 or visit the
  • Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or go to, or visit your local Social Security office.

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