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Medicare Savings Program Expansion in New York: New Report Highlights Lessons Learned and Other Needed Improvements

This week, the Medicare Rights Center released a report titled Increasing Access to Medicare Savings Programs: Lessons Learned and Policy Recommendations from New York. The paper reviews important information gained as advocates successfully pushed to expand access to the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP) in New York, and speaks to the work that remains to realize the full promise of those changes.

The MSP helps older adults and people with disabilities living on limited incomes by paying their Medicare Part B premiums and automatically enrolling them in “Extra Help,” the federal program that helps low-income Part D enrollees with their drug costs; it may also cover other Medicare cost sharing. This financial assistance can be a lifeline, allowing enrollees to maintain their Medicare coverage; access needed care; and afford other necessities, like food and rent.

New York’s MSP expansion took effect in 2023, paving the way for 300,000 more Medicare beneficiaries to connect with their coverage. This timeline well positioned the program to address some of the health and economic challenges Medicare beneficiaries have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MSP reforms were paired with New York’s Medicaid expansion for the aged, blind, and disabled population, helping even more New Yorkers access care and coverage. Critically, the eligibility shift has also improved alignment for individuals transitioning to Medicare from expansion Medicaid who used to lose access to important benefits and faced financial barriers to care.

For advocates pursuing MSP expansion in other states, the report provides important guidance for implementing new income disregards. It also explains the savings MSP expansion can generate for State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs) via Extra Help enrollment. Advocates can adapt these arguments when working with lawmakers in different states.

In New York, Medicare Rights continues to press for MSP improvements, including automating eligibility renewals and increasing outreach and enrollment efforts. Though six months have passed since MSP expansion, there are still many eligible New Yorkers who have not yet enrolled or who may be at risk of losing benefits during the public health emergency unwind. Strengthening benefit access will help ensure New Yorkers get the help they need under the MSP and Medicaid expansions.

Read the report.

Read more about the Medicare Savings Programs.

Read more about New York’s 2023 MSP eligibility expansions.

For MSP enrollment assistance, call the Medicare Rights Center helpline at 800-333-4114 or visit

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