Press Release             

Contact: Paul Precht
Director of Policy and Communications

Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications

May 26, 2009

Over Seventy-Five Patient Advocacy Groups Support Phasing Out the Two-Year Medicare Waiting Period by April 2011

New York, NY—The Coalition to End the Two-Year Wait for Medicare, a group of organizations that work to ensure access to health care for people with disabilities, praised the Senate Finance Committee for addressing the two-year Medicare waiting period for people with disabilities in its health reform proposal to extend affordable health care coverage to all Americans.

The Committee put forth four options, and the coalition voiced its strongest support for the option that would phase out the waiting period by April 2011.

“No one with a disability severe enough to qualify for SSDI should be without health coverage,” says the coalition in its letter addressed to Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA). “The policy options presented in Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans represent a recognition by the Committee that the waiting period for coverage is unjustifiable and a commitment to move towards its elimination.”

The four proposed options are:

(1)  halve the waiting period to 12 months;

(2)  phase out the waiting period by July 2015;

(3)  phase out the waiting period in six-month increments, with total elimination by April 2011;

(4)  maintain the waiting period for people with access to private insurance (not including COBRA coverage from a former employer) and phase it out for everyone else.

The coalition cited new research by the Commonwealth Fund showing a severe decline in the health of people with disabilities in the first year of the waiting period. Thirteen percent die while in the waiting period, never accessing the Medicare benefit that they funded through their taxes during their working years.

The Coalition’s letter can be found at The Senate Finance Committee’s policy options are at


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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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