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Advocacy Alert! Tell Congress to Prioritize Medicare Low-Income Outreach and Enrollment Funding

As we covered last month, authorization and funding for outreach and enrollment to low-income Medicare beneficiaries was dropped from the current short-term federal spending bill, or Continuing Resolution (CR), at the last minute. With work on the next CR underway, it’s critical that lawmakers hear from you today about this important program.

First allocated by the 2008 Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), this funding helps community-based organizations like State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) connect Medicare beneficiaries with programs that can make their health care and prescription drugs more affordable, like the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) and Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS/Extra Help).

For many, this assistance is a lifeline. But it is notoriously hard to access, underadvertised, and underenrolled. Medicare Rights often hears from older adults and people with disabilities who are unaware of these supports or are caught in administrative red tape, and who are facing health and economic hardships as a result.

By facilitating engagement with beneficiaries at the community level, MIPPA has proven effective at overcoming these barriers. In the last three years alone, MIPPA grantees in every state have helped over three million people with Medicare better understand, afford, and use their coverage.

Critically, funding for this work is not automatic. It expires every few years (most recently on September 30, 2023) and requires congressional action to continue. Those reauthorizations, 11 in total, have historically enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. Congress often effectuates these renewals by attaching MIPPA to spending bills as a “health care extender.” Lawmakers must do so again. Allowing these resources to lapse would cause widespread harms. It would force SHIPs, AAAs, and ADRCs to curtail their lifesaving and life-affirming work, putting beneficiaries with limited incomes and options at significant risk.

Act Now!

Ask your Members of Congress to include funding for MIPPA’s low-income Medicare beneficiary outreach and enrollment activities in the next 2024 spending bill. Explain that you are a constituent, that this program has a footprint in your state and/or community, a long history of success and bipartisanship, and must be extended without delay.

To Weigh In:

  • Look up your elected officials (House, Senate). Most have information on their websites.
  • You can also connect by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and by sending an email through NCOA’s advocacy portal.

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