Press Release             

Contact: Mitchell Clark
Senior Communications Associate

November 8, 2012

Federal Agency Extends the Medicare Open Enrollment for Those Affected by Hurricane Sandy

New York, NY—Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers affected by Hurricane Sandy are being granted additional time beyond the December 7, 2012 deadline to make a health and prescription drug plan selection.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is granting this extension of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period in order to give beneficiaries and their families adequate time and presence of mind to fully weigh the scope of their health care needs. CMS has responded to the concerns of the Medicare Rights Center and other advocates, people with Medicare, and their families by extending the Open Enrollment Period and issuing a reminder to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans about their obligations during a federal disaster. Without the extension, Medicare beneficiaries affected by Hurricane Sandy would have had to make new plan choices by December 7, and if they did not, they would have been locked into their current plan for another year. 

Read Medicare Rights’ letter to CMS requesting the extension.

“We applaud CMS for their flexibility and understanding towards people with Medicare and families affected by Hurricane Sandy,” said Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center. “While we encourage people to make their plan selection before December 7, we are grateful to CMS for listening to the requests of advocates and beneficiaries who are asking for more time during this difficult period.  This time is essential for people with Medicare to be able to choose a plan that will provide them with the best care during the coming year.”

Individuals who were affected by Hurricane Sandy and who are unable to make a Medicare enrollment decision by the December 7 deadline, can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to make their plan selection at anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each request will be reviewed individually to determine the best course of action based upon individual circumstances. Any enrollment into a plan after the December 7 deadline will be effective the month after the enrollment request is made.

Additionally, when disaster declarations are issued, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans have certain obligations, including ensuring members have access to covered prescriptions at out-of-network pharmacies when the members cannot obtain the covered drugs at a network pharmacy, and ensuring that all affected members have access to a maximum extended day supply of their medications if the supply is available during the time at which the member refills their prescriptions.

For questions about Medicare coverage and the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers can contact the Medicare Rights Center Helpline at 800-333-4114.

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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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