October 19, 2017

Young, Casey Offer Bipartisan Solution To Medicare Enrollment Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to simplify the complex enrollment process for the growing number of Americans aging into Medicare, U.S Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the bipartisan Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act. The BENES Act, which is supported by nearly 70 organizations that represent older Americans, people with disabilities, insurers, and health care providers, would simplify and modernize the Medicare enrollment process by making improvements to the notification system and ensuring the elimination of coverage gaps.

“Currently, seniors who miss the sign-up deadline for Medicare Part B face onerous penalties that persist for the rest of their lives,” said Senator Young. “The BENES Act will make the sign-up process more efficient and friendly to our seniors so they have the financial backstop needed to access quality medical care.”

“As more and more Americans age into Medicare, we need to do all we can to simplify and improve the enrollment process. This legislation works to inform more Americans of their options and eliminate coverage gaps,” said Senator Casey. “By working in a bipartisan, commonsense fashion, we can ensure that more people are saving money and receiving the coverage they need when they need it.”

“Far too many people with Medicare are saddled with a lifetime of higher health care costs and go without needed services due to fragmented and archaic Part B enrollment processes,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “The BENES Act will prevent the calls that come into our helpline every day from seniors and people with disabilities caught in a complicated web of Medicare enrollment rules.” 

The BENES Act Would:

Improve the notification process for individuals by creating a framework for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Social Security Administration (SSA), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to collaborate to alert individuals approaching eligibility about the Medicare enrollment process and how Medicare works with other insurance.

Eliminate coverage gaps during enrollment periods by guaranteeing that Medicare beneficiaries do not experience a break in coverage. Specifically, the legislation would fix gaps in the fifth, sixth and seventh month of an individual’s Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and in the General Enrollment Period (GEP). This would modernize the system that has not seen changes since its establishment over fifty years ago.