Bilirakis Seeks to Prevent Medicare Late-Enrollment Penalties
Sponsors say if the bipartisan bill passes, it would would eliminate needless gaps in health-care coverage and help prevent lifetime late-enrollment penalties.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, is co-sponsoring a bill that, he says, would help eliminate gaps in health-care coverage and hold costs down by preventing lifetime late-enrollment penalties.
The proposed legislation, the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act, would simplify complex Medicare enrollment rules.
BENES would direct the federal government to provide advance notice to individuals approaching Medicare eligibility about basic Medicare enrollment rules, filling a long-standing gap in education for older adults and people with disabilities. The bill would also eliminate needless multi-month coverage gaps in Medicare enrollment periods and align Medicare Part B enrollment periods with those in private Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans.
Today, almost 760,000 Americans are paying these penalties, increasing their Medicare Part B premiums by an average of 28 percent.
Bilirakis is co-sponsoring the proposal with Reps. Raul Ruiz, D-CA; Jackie Walorski, R-IN; and Brad Schneider, D-IL). Bilirakis said the BENES Act is supported by more than 85 organizations including AARP, AHIP, BlueCross BlueShield Association and Medicare Rights Center.
“I have met with numerous constituents who are paying this penalty due to a variety of circumstances, some of which are outside of their control or are a result of a basic misunderstanding of how the program operates,” Bilirakis said. “The current requirements are confusing, and I am proud to be a part of this bi-partisan effort to simplify the program and make it more user-friendly for seniors.”
Ruiz said, ““For too many seniors, enrolling in Medicare Part B is a confusing process that can lead to expensive penalties and higher health care costs. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan BENES Act to ensure older Americans understand the Medicare Part B program, helping them avoid higher premiums or gaps in their health care coverage. This critical legislation will prevent older Americans from falling through the cracks and not getting the health care that they need. As a physician, I will continue to fight for our seniors’ access to quality, affordable health care they have earned and deserve.”
Fred Riccardi, president, Medicare Rights Center, said, “Every day on our National Consumer Helpline, we hear from older adults and people with disabilities who are confused about how and when to enroll, or who made a mistake and are facing lifetime late enrollment penalties, higher health care costs, gaps in coverage, and disruptions in care continuity as a result. The BENES Act will significantly alleviate these challenges and improve the health and financial security for people with Medicare.”
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
For information about Bilirakis, go to bilirakis.house.gov.
Gus Bilirakis | Health Care | Health | Medicare | Tampabay News
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