September 20, 2019

Medicare Enrollment Relief Policy is Set to Expire on September 30
–79 Organizations Call on CMS to Retain Policy to Prevent Seniors and People with Disabilities from Facing Gaps in Coverage and Costly Medicare Part B Late Enrollment Penalties–

 Washington, DC—Today, the Medicare Rights Center led a coalition of 79 state and national organizations in urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to retain a policy—set to expire on September 30, 2019—that helps some Medicare beneficiaries correct problems with their Part B enrollment resulting from confusion or misinformation regarding Medicare and the Marketplaces. Under this relief, Medicare-eligible individuals with Marketplace coverage can apply to enroll in Part B without penalty, and those who have already transitioned to Medicare can request that any Part B late enrollment penalties be reduced or eliminated.

In initially establishing this policy, CMS was appropriately responding to the needs of Marketplace enrollees who became newly eligible for Medicare. Many of these enrollees mistakenly delayed or declined Part B because they were unaware of the financial penalties and coverage gaps that could result from choosing and/or keeping their Marketplace coverage.

Unfortunately, these enrollment errors persist. “On our National Consumer Helpline, we continue to hear from people who are struggling to understand how the Medicare and the Marketplaces interact, and who are experiencing significant problems with their coverage as a result. Many are also having difficulty navigating the time-limited equitable relief application process, often due to inadequate or incorrect federal agency guidance,” said Fred Riccardi, president of 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.

“Given these ongoing challenges, we are concerned that CMS’s beneficiary and intra-agency educational efforts, while welcome, have not been as effective as they could be.”

Accordingly, in the letter Medicare Rights and its organizational partners urge CMS to retain its time-limited equitable relief policy until the agency can demonstrate it has sufficiently addressed this misinformation—through September 30, 2020, at a minimum.

Medicare Rights urges people who may be eligible for this relief to apply by the current September 30, 2019 deadline and to contact our National Helpline with any questions or concerns that may arise.

For more information on time-limited equitable relief and how to apply:

  • Visit Medicare Interactive, the Medicare Rights’ free online counseling tool
  • Read the Fact Sheet made available by CMS
  • Call the Medicare Rights’ free national helpline at 1-800-333-4114
  • Find your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-877-839-2675 or by going to
  • Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or go to, or visit your local Social Security office

Read the letter.

Contact: Mitchell Clark –


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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

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