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Policy Work

The Medicare Rights Center’s policy agenda is driven by our experience serving people with Medicare and their families on our national helpline and through our educational programs. We pursue legislative and administrative solutions to protect, strengthen, and improve the Medicare program for current beneficiaries and generations to come.

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Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration

The Medicare Rights Center looks forward to working with the Biden administration to advance policies that protect and strengthen Medicare as well as the health and economic well-being of those who rely on its coverage. Read our recommended actions submitted for President Biden and his administration's consideration.
Hot Topics

Policy Issues

Informed by the thousands of stories we hear on our national helpline each year, our health equity-driven policy and advocacy agenda is focused on helping people with Medicare access and afford their care. The following issues are particularly pressing as we seek to advance these goals.

Combat COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic fallout will have a lasting impact on people with Medicare and on the program itself. We urge Congress and the Biden administration to help people with Medicare maintain their health, safety, and independence during the public health emergency and beyond.

This includes easing and expediting Medicare enrollment; ensuring access to affordable COVID-19 care, treatment, and vaccines; providing economic relief for families, communities, and states; promoting health, safety, and quality of care in nursing homes; and increasing funding for Medicaid and other community living programs.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Strengthen Medicare Coverage

Medicare provides health coverage and access to 60 million older adults and people with disabilities. While it is a lifeline for many, there are critical gaps in the benefit, such as Medicare’s lack of comprehensive coverage for hearing, vision, and oral health services, that must be addressed. Changes are also needed to improve access to long-term care, achieve mental health parity, and better support caregivers and the health care workforce.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Comments  |  
September 7, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 27, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
May 24, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 27, 2021  
Letters  |  
July 20, 2021  
Letters  |  
July 19, 2021  
Improve Medicare Part B Enrollment

In December 2020, key provisions of the BENES Act were signed into law. The policies update Medicare enrollment rules for the first time in over 50 years—ending lengthy waits for coverage, expanding critical administrative flexibilities, and informing future policymaking on enrollment period alignment. These changes will take effect in 2023. 

To ensure these reforms are adopted in a thoughtful and timely manner, the Medicare Rights Center urges the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to immediately launch a transparent implementation process that engages stakeholders and advances health equity goals. 

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Comments  |  
June 27, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
January 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
December 17, 2020  
Positions and Publications  |  
May 3, 2019  
Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable

Medicare Rights supports efforts to meaningfully reduce drug prices and lower costs for people with Medicare and the program as a whole. Important strategies to do so include imposing limits on beneficiary out-of-pocket spending, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and increasing price transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. Any changes to the current system must strengthen beneficiary protections and access to care.

We urge the Biden administration to use administrative tools to advance these goals, and to work with Congress on comprehensive drug pricing reform. The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) should serve as the basis for future legislation.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Ease Access to Medicare’s Low-Income Assistance Programs

Medicare Savings Programs and Part D’s Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) or “Extra Help” can make care, including prescription drugs, more affordable for older adults and people with disabilities. However, the programs’ complex, bureaucratic application processes and outdated eligibility thresholds unnecessarily limit participation.

Medicare Rights urges policymakers to update these rules to better reflect beneficiary financial realities, and to incorporate reforms made elsewhere in the health care system. This includes eliminating the asset limits for Medicare low-income assistance programs; allowing more people to access the benefits; aligning eligibility thresholds across programs; as well as integrating and simplifying administrative functions.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Letters  |  
July 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
February 1, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
January 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
December 17, 2020  
Positions and Publications  |  
March 13, 2020  
Modernize Medicare Part D Appeals

The Medicare Part D appeals process is an essential safety valve that allows older adults and people with disabilities to obtain needed medications. However, the current process is overly onerous and deeply flawed. Its inefficiencies can lead to delays in beneficiary access, abandonment of therapies, reduced adherence to treatment protocols, worse health outcomes, and higher costs.

We urge the Biden administration to pursue structural simplifications without delay, and to work with Congress to address systemic pitfalls. This includes legislation introduced in the 116th Congress, the bipartisan, bicameral Streamlining Part D Appeals Process Act (S. 1861/H.R. 3924). This commonsense bill would allow a refusal at the pharmacy counter to serve as the plan’s initial coverage determination—giving people with Medicare more timely information about their plan’s coverage decision and eliminating unnecessary steps within the system

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Positions and Publications  |  
January 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
December 17, 2020  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 31, 2019  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 31, 2019  
Integrate Care for People with Medicare and Medicaid

Distinct Medicare and Medicaid rules, funding streams, and service delivery systems can create barriers that increase costs and worsen outcomes for the 12 million people who are enrolled in both programs. This fragmentation is a perennial concern for state and federal policymakers, given the high health needs of dually eligible individuals and associated program costs.

More fully integrating care by removing systemic barriers for dually eligible individuals has the potential to improve enrollee health in a cost-effective way. Medicare Rights supports efforts that offer meaningful choice; address disparities in access to and quality of care; rely on active and informed consumer participation; include robust consumer protections and oversight; offer clear consumer and provider education about options for accessing integrated care; establish unified grievance and appeals processes; ensure seamless access to data; and provide person-centered care coordination and care management.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more by reading Medicare Rights’ recommendations for New York integrated care products and toolkit for navigating integrated care in New York, as well as some of our recent comments:

Comments  |  
April 26, 2021  
Comments  |  
March 30, 2020  
Combat COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic fallout will have a lasting impact on people with Medicare and on the program itself. We urge Congress and the Biden administration to help people with Medicare maintain their health, safety, and independence during the public health emergency and beyond.

This includes easing and expediting Medicare enrollment; ensuring access to affordable COVID-19 care, treatment, and vaccines; providing economic relief for families, communities, and states; promoting health, safety, and quality of care in nursing homes; and increasing funding for Medicaid and other community living programs.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Strengthen Medicare Coverage

Medicare provides health coverage and access to 60 million older adults and people with disabilities. While it is a lifeline for many, there are critical gaps in the benefit, such as Medicare’s lack of comprehensive coverage for hearing, vision, and oral health services, that must be addressed. Changes are also needed to improve access to long-term care, achieve mental health parity, and better support caregivers and the health care workforce.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Comments  |  
September 7, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 27, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
May 24, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 27, 2021  
Letters  |  
July 20, 2021  
Letters  |  
July 19, 2021  
Improve Medicare Part B Enrollment

In December 2020, key provisions of the BENES Act were signed into law. The policies update Medicare enrollment rules for the first time in over 50 years—ending lengthy waits for coverage, expanding critical administrative flexibilities, and informing future policymaking on enrollment period alignment. These changes will take effect in 2023. 

To ensure these reforms are adopted in a thoughtful and timely manner, the Medicare Rights Center urges the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to immediately launch a transparent implementation process that engages stakeholders and advances health equity goals. 

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Comments  |  
June 27, 2022  
Positions and Publications  |  
January 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
December 17, 2020  
Positions and Publications  |  
May 3, 2019  
Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable

Medicare Rights supports efforts to meaningfully reduce drug prices and lower costs for people with Medicare and the program as a whole. Important strategies to do so include imposing limits on beneficiary out-of-pocket spending, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and increasing price transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. Any changes to the current system must strengthen beneficiary protections and access to care.

We urge the Biden administration to use administrative tools to advance these goals, and to work with Congress on comprehensive drug pricing reform. The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) should serve as the basis for future legislation.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Modernize Medicare Part D Appeals

The Medicare Part D appeals process is an essential safety valve that allows older adults and people with disabilities to obtain needed medications. However, the current process is overly onerous and deeply flawed. Its inefficiencies can lead to delays in beneficiary access, abandonment of therapies, reduced adherence to treatment protocols, worse health outcomes, and higher costs.

We urge the Biden administration to pursue structural simplifications without delay, and to work with Congress to address systemic pitfalls. This includes legislation introduced in the 116th Congress, the bipartisan, bicameral Streamlining Part D Appeals Process Act (S. 1861/H.R. 3924). This commonsense bill would allow a refusal at the pharmacy counter to serve as the plan’s initial coverage determination—giving people with Medicare more timely information about their plan’s coverage decision and eliminating unnecessary steps within the system

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Positions and Publications  |  
January 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
December 17, 2020  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 31, 2019  
Positions and Publications  |  
July 31, 2019  
Ease Access to Medicare’s Low-Income Assistance Programs

Medicare Savings Programs and Part D’s Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) or “Extra Help” can make care, including prescription drugs, more affordable for older adults and people with disabilities. However, the programs’ complex, bureaucratic application processes and outdated eligibility thresholds unnecessarily limit participation.

Medicare Rights urges policymakers to update these rules to better reflect beneficiary financial realities, and to incorporate reforms made elsewhere in the health care system. This includes eliminating the asset limits for Medicare low-income assistance programs; allowing more people to access the benefits; aligning eligibility thresholds across programs; as well as integrating and simplifying administrative functions.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more about Medicare Rights’ positions and recommendations from our policy documents:
Letters  |  
July 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
February 1, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
January 20, 2021  
Positions and Publications  |  
December 17, 2020  
Positions and Publications  |  
March 13, 2020  
Integrate Care for People with Medicare and Medicaid

Distinct Medicare and Medicaid rules, funding streams, and service delivery systems can create barriers that increase costs and worsen outcomes for the 12 million people who are enrolled in both programs. This fragmentation is a perennial concern for state and federal policymakers, given the high health needs of dually eligible individuals and associated program costs.

More fully integrating care by removing systemic barriers for dually eligible individuals has the potential to improve enrollee health in a cost-effective way. Medicare Rights supports efforts that offer meaningful choice; address disparities in access to and quality of care; rely on active and informed consumer participation; include robust consumer protections and oversight; offer clear consumer and provider education about options for accessing integrated care; establish unified grievance and appeals processes; ensure seamless access to data; and provide person-centered care coordination and care management.

Read the latest news and updates on this issue. You can also stay on top of key Medicare policy and advocacy developments by subscribing to the weekly Medicare Watch newsletter.

Learn more by reading Medicare Rights’ recommendations for New York integrated care products and toolkit for navigating integrated care in New York, as well as some of our recent comments:

Comments  |  
April 26, 2021  
Comments  |  
March 30, 2020  
Policy Documents

Through public comments on administrative and regulatory changes, letters to policymakers, congressional testimony, and key reports, Medicare Rights advocates for systemic improvements to Medicare and other programs. Read these documents to learn more.

30 Policy Goals

Thinking ahead to Medicare's future, it’s important to modernize benefits and pursue changes that improve how people with Medicare navigate their coverage on a daily basis. Here are our evolving 30 policy goals for Medicare’s future.

Medicare Updates
Sign up for our weekly policy newsletter, Medicare Watch, to stay informed. Subscribers receive timely updates and alerts on issues important to older adults and people with disabilities. View recent articles in the latest news and updates.
Speak out

Take Action

Contacting your members of Congress is one of the best ways to enact positive change. Learn more about key legislation we’re following and weigh in today.

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Policy Fact Sheets

Our fact sheet collections address a variety of Medicare issues and debates, highlighting the importance of the program now and in the future.

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Working in Coalition

New York Advocacy

The Medicare Rights Center leads a number of coalitions designed to advocate for older adults, people disabilities, and people with limited incomes in New York.

The Coalition to Protect the Rights of New York’s Dually Eligible (CPRNYDE) is a diverse group of over 50 consumer-based interests, agencies, and perspectives working to shape the managed care programs that coordinate care for 760,000 older and disabled New Yorkers who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

 

CPRNDYE, launched with support from Community Catalyst, seeks to improve the quality and affordability of care for New Yorkers dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The coalition's membership engages in regular dialogue with state government and other stakeholders to improve programs intended to serve dual-eligibles. 

The New York State Medicare Savings Coalition, led by the Medicare Rights Center, is an alliance of over 150 community-based organizations, advocacy groups and government agencies in New York State. The Coalition is not intended for or open to employees of health insurance companies, health insurance agents or brokers, self-employed individuals, or individuals employed by private for-profit businesses. By bringing government officials and advocates together in dialogue, our meetings offer Coalition members the opportunity to review the latest information on implementing health care programs for people with limited incomes.

 

Coalition members stay connected through regular e-mail updates, conference calls, enrollment initiatives and advocacy projects. This ongoing exchange allows us to share knowledge about enrollment strategies and compare case scenarios.