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Updated Medicare Savings Program Application May Ease Access to Assistance

Last week, Medicare Rights submitted brief comments in support of an updated Medicare Savings Program (MSP) application redesign. MSPs help people with limited income and savings pay their Medicare costs, but they are historically underenrolled, partly because they have overly complex application processes.

This work builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s welcome focus on reducing administrative burden for public programs by supporting “streamlining State enrollment and renewal processes and removing barriers, including by eliminating face-to-face interview requirements and requiring prepopulated electronic renewal forms, to ensure eligible individuals are automatically enrolled in and retain access to critical benefit programs.”

Within the past year, the administration already took important steps to advance these goals, including finalizing rules to streamline some application processes for both Medicaid and MSPs.

Now, this application redesign would make vital changes for readability and accessibility, but signing up is still a fairly complicated endeavor. This is largely due to onerous state administrative requirements. For example, in most states MSP enrollees must meet strict financial eligibility criteria and submit extensive documentation to that effect.

But some states have improved access to MSPs. As we have reported extensively, New York chose to extend MSP eligibility sharply in 2023. Upon taking effect, this made over 300,000 New Yorkers eligible to access MSPs as well as the Part D low-income subsidy (LIS), also known as “Extra Help,” which can make prescription drugs more affordable and is automatic upon enrollment in an MSP.

We applaud actions at the state and federal levels to make MSPs more available. We continue to urge policymakers to comprehensively modernize the program by raising eligibility thresholds, eliminating administrative and other barriers, and increasing outreach to all who qualify.

Read our brief comments on the MSP application redesign.

Read more about efforts to streamline MSP and Medicaid application processes.

Read more about New York’s MSP expansion.

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