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Positions and Publications

Medicare Savings Programs in New York State:
Policy Recommendations from the Medicare Rights Center

The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and the resultant economic fallout has highlighted longstanding barriers affecting Medicare beneficiaries, older adults and people with disabilities, especially individuals with low incomes and people of color. However, the pandemic has also provided an opportunity to address these challenges with renewed purpose and vigor. It is imperative that New York State act to support older adults and people with disabilities by continuing to invest in state and local programs that meaningfully improve health and economic well-being.

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Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act

The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2021 (H.R. 3650/S. 2048) would count the time Medicare beneficiaries spend in the hospital under “observation” status toward the three-day stay requirement for SNF coverage, improving access to critical, needed care.

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Improving Medicare Assistance Programs: Easing Access to LIS

For those who qualify, the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program (also called “Extra Help”) can be a lifeline, helping them pay for Medicare coverage they would not otherwise be able to afford. But accessing this program presents challenges of its own. The application process is complex and fragmented, and the eligibility requirements are woefully outdated. As a result, many who need this assistance aren’t able to get it.

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Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration: Address Disparities and Inequities

Medicare Rights urges the administration to address disparities and inequities in order to
improve health care and coverage for all.
Medicare has long been a powerful tool to reduce injustice and inequality. The program played a pivotal
role in “forc[ing] the desegregation of every hospital in America virtually overnight” and continues to
offer coverage to all who qualify.1 But inequities remain. Every day, we see the destructive and
persistent effects of institutionalized racism, individual bias, and systemic oppression. Medicare Rights
welcomes the Biden administration’s commitment to addressing these problems directly, in ways that
advance equity, justice, and access to care—including by strengthening Medicare, Medicaid, and the
Affordable Care Act.

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Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration: Reduce Barriers to Care

The Biden administration must reduce barriers to care by making coverage more available, accessible,
and affordable.
On our Helpline, we frequently hear from older adults and people with disabilities who live on modest
or limited incomes and are struggling to access and afford their care.1 These financial challenges—which
have in many cases been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic—along with rising health care and
prescription drug costs, antiquated coverage rules, and burdensome program requirements can make it
difficult for older adults and people with disabilities to obtain the care they need.2 The following reforms
would help reduce these barriers to care by making Medicare stronger, easier to navigate, and more

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Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration: Simplify Medicare Enrollment

Medicare Rights asks the Biden administration to simplify Medicare enrollment in order to ensure active, informed, and meaningful beneficiary choice. A rapidly aging population, complex Medicare rules and timelines, and an ever-evolving health ca landscape means a growing number of individuals will face increasingly difficult Medicare coverage decisions in the coming months and years. The Biden administration must act without delay to better empower current and future beneficiaries to make optimal choices, both initially and annually.

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Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration: Immediately Respond to COVID-19

The Medicare Rights Center encourages the Biden administration to immediately respond to COVID-19 in ways that prioritize older adults and people with disabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic fallout will have a lasting impact on people with Medicare and on the program itself. While additional interventions may be necessary as the situation evolves, the administration must first focus on reforms that are urgently needed to help people with Medicare maintain their health, safety, and independence.

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