Press Release             

Contact: Paul Precht
Director of Policy and Communications

Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications

December 15, 2009

New York State Reforms Expand Access, Remove Barriers to Programs
that Lower Costs for People with Medicare,
Consumer Advocacy Group Says

-- Report Recommends Additional Reforms --

New York, NY—New York State has implemented administrative and legislative reforms that are spurring enrollment in Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), and will likely lead to savings in administrative costs, says the Medicare Rights Center, a national consumer advocacy organization.

“This report shows that advocacy works,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “Advocates for low-income people with Medicare identified a problem—that many who were entitled to MSPs were not enrolled—and suggested reforms and worked with the state to implement them. We are now seeing that these well-crafted reforms are making it easier for people with limited incomes to enroll in Medicare Savings Programs.”

Medicare Savings Programs help people with low incomes afford their Medicare-related costs. The report explores the interrelationships between MSPs, the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program, commonly known as Extra Help, which helps pay drug costs for people with Medicare, and EPIC, New York’s state pharmaceutical assistance program for the elderly.

In Lessons from New York State: Removing Bureaucratic Barriers and Expanding Eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs, a report developed with assistance from the Elebash Fund, the Medicare Rights Center examines the MSP reform effort in New York State. The report outlines the roles of the multiple agencies involved in the administration of MSPs, LIS and EPIC. It also describes the bureaucratic hurdles that had kept many low-income people from enrolling in MSPs, as well as the time-consuming nature of the application process that caseworkers had to manage. Advocates in New York suggested reforms that would address both of these problems, and in 2008, the state implemented two major reforms: the elimination of the face-to-face interview requirement and the elimination of the asset test. These two reform measures have simplified the enrollment process and increased the number of people with MSPs, and are expected to yield administrative cost savings for the state.

“The current economic climate has been particularly harsh for cash-strapped older New Yorkers,” said Joe Baker. “But enrolling in an MSP should bring them significant relief. These improvements that have eased the enrollment process could not have come at a better time.”

The report recommends additional reforms—eliminating income documentation requirements, streamlining the recertification process and raising the income thresholds—to remove remaining bureaucratic obstacles and expand eligibility for MSPs.

The report, Lessons from New York State: Removing Bureaucratic Barriers and Expanding Eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs, is available 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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