Today, the Medicare Rights Center sent congressional leaders a letter of support for the BENES Act (S. 1280/H.R. 2477) signed by 10 former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (previously the Health Care Financing Administration) Administrators—a group made up of Republicans and Democrats.
Reintroduced last year, the bipartisan, bicameral BENES Act is urgently needed to modernize and simplify the Medicare Part B enrollment process. Currently, far too many people make honest mistakes when trying to understand and navigate this confusing system. The consequences of such missteps are significant—including late enrollment penalties, higher out-of-pocket health care costs, gaps in coverage, and barriers to accessing needed services.
The BENES Act would help prevent these costly errors. It would fill long-standing gaps in outreach and education by directing the federal government to notify individuals approaching Medicare eligibility about basic enrollment rules. It would also update enrollment periods and timelines to eliminate breaks in coverage. Together, these changes would improve the health and financial well-being of current and future Medicare beneficiaries.
In addition to the former agency officials, the BENES Act enjoys widespread bipartisan support in Congress as well. It is led by Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and by Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN). A number of their colleagues have also endorsed the bill. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by six Republicans and six Democrats, and in the House, it is sponsored by seven Republicans and 11 Democrats.
It is also championed by a diverse array of stakeholders, including consumer advocates, health insurers, unions, and service providers.
The BENES Act was approved by the full Committee on Ways & Means last June and by the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee in March. Earlier this year, Medicare Rights president Fred Riccardi testified to the merits of the bill, urging its swift enactment.
Medicare Rights continues to strongly back the BENES Act and to push for its immediate passage. We applaud the former Administrators—as well as the bill’s sponsors and stakeholders—for their thoughtful support of the BENES Act’s commonsense reforms. We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that all people with Medicare have timely access to affordable, high-quality coverage and care.
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