NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2015

House Democratic Leaders Urge New Notice for People Nearing Medicare Eligibility
–Name 2015 White House Conference on Aging as a platform for action–

New York, NY—Today, ranking leaders of key U.S. House Committees and the co-chairs of the U.S. House Seniors Taskforce sent a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration to develop a system to ensure that all individuals nearing Medicare eligibility receive timely and complete notice about Medicare enrollment.

The letter recognizes the complexity of making informed decisions about when to enroll in Medicare and the consequences of enrollment errors, and urges these federal agencies to use the 2015 White House Conference on Aging as a platform for change.

Led by Congressman Sander Levin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Ways & Means, the letter is also signed by Congressman Frank Pallone, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy & Commerce, Congressman Robert C. Scott, Ranking Member of the Committee on Education & the Workforce, as well as Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congresswoman Doris Matsui, co-chairs of the U.S. House Seniors Taskforce.

“With our health care system changing, and with new options available to them, eligible seniors should have access to the information they need to navigate Medicare and get the quality care they deserve,” said Ranking Member Levin. “Medicare needs to do more to help seniors understand their health care options when they turn 65.”

Today, no federal agency provides notification about Medicare eligibility to individuals not yet collecting Social Security benefits—meaning those not automatically enrolled in Medicare are not informed about enrollment rules and policies. Honest enrollment mistakes can result in lifetime premium penalties, gaps in health coverage, and higher health care costs.

“We applaud Congressman Levin, Congressman Pallone, Congressman Scott, Congresswoman Schakowsky, and Congresswoman Matsui for bringing this important issue to the attention of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging,” said Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center. “Time and time again, we hear from callers to our national helpline who face a lifetime of higher Medicare premiums and who face many months without health coverage, simply because they were uninformed about Medicare enrollment rules.”

The Medicare Rights Center is encouraged by this call to action and looks forward to working with partners, with the federal agencies identified, and with Congress to ensure all people new to the Medicare program have the information and tools they need to successfully enroll.

Read the letter.

Providing a federal notice to all people approaching Medicare eligibility is wish #8 in our campaign counting down to Medicare’s 50th anniversary with one wish a day for Medicare’s future. Follow along at www.medicarerights.org/50wishes and #50Medicarewishes.

Contact: Mitchell Clark, Senior Communications Associate, mclark@medicarerights.org, 212-204-6286

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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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