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AMAC Supports Bill to Encourage Timely Medicare Enrollment

Medicare

This bill provides seniors with the certainty they need when planning for retirement and prevents millions from paying burdensome penalties in the future.

 
 
 
 
 
 

September 21, 2022


The Honorable Bob Casey
Senator from Pennsylvania
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Todd Young
Senator from Indiana
185 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senators Casey and Young,


On behalf of the 2.3 million members of the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), I am writing in support of S. 3675, Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification 2.0 Act (BENES 2.0). This important legislation will help seniors go through the Medicare Part B enrollment process and provide millions of Americans with certainty as they plan for their long-term health.

Under current law, seniors become eligible for Medicare Part B’s initial enrollment period three months before and after reaching age 65. Seniors who miss this three-month window are subject to a hefty penalty that increases their monthly premium by 10 percent for every year they delayed Part B enrollment. Unfortunately, because Medicare Part B and Social Security full retirement eligibility no longer occur at the same age, many seniors are unaware that they become eligible for Medicare Part B well before becoming eligible for Social Security. To date, approximately 701,000 Medicare beneficiaries pay this monthly Part B penalty, increasing individual premiums by an average of 31 percent. BENES 2.0 builds on the gains of the original BENES Act and helps seniors by notifying them of the enrollment requirement which provides the certainty they need when planning for retirement and prevents millions of seniors from paying burdensome penalties in the future.

As an organization committed to representing the interests of mature Americans and seniors, AMAC is dedicated to ensuring senior citizens’ interests are protected. We commend Senators Casey and Young for your commonsense, responsible, and equitable solution that will benefit millions of aging Americans preparing to retire. AMAC is pleased to offer our organization’s full support to the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification 2.0 Act.

Sincerely,

Bob Carlstrom
President
AMAC Action

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PaulE
2 months ago

So it would seem what is missing is a series of notification letters from CMS reminding those approaching the age of 65, that they need to sign up for both Part A and Part B. Seems simple enough to fix without any need for legislation. Since CMS already has the mailing address for virtually every person paying into the system during their working years, CMS can go old school and just start sending out monthly reminder letters once a month, every month to anyone 12 to 15 months before they reach 65. The federal government already has all this info at their finger tips, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. That would be 12 to 15 letters informing people approaching 65, that they need to enroll in both parts of Medicare. All of which could be done via an executive order from the POTUS directing the head of CMS to do the mailings.

If HHS wants to also do TV ad spots say once a month on the networks, that would be the only reason Congress would have to be involved. Since CMS would need to increase their budget to handle paying for producing and airing these TV spots, that would just be a line item addition to the regular budget of HHS. Easy peasy. No special legislation would be needed to handle this item. Beyond that, I cannot envision any justification that would entail the need for special legislation to handle this enhanced notification issue.

The on-line sign-up for Medicare is straight-forward enough. Although it is what I would consider to be quite clunky and the UI (User Interface) is rudimentary at best, it is easy enough for everyone to get though. Obviously its cobol code running on a mainframe at it finest…for circa 1980. I chalk that up to the antique technology most of the federal government still relies on for running so much of the government’s technology nfrastructure. It would likely take decades to upgrade the CMS technology to make the overall customer experience both much easier and less convoluted. Honestly, you should be able to make the entire process something that can be done in 5 minutes. Given where we are national debt wise, I can’t see anyone bringing this issue up for national attention any time soon.

Jeannine
2 months ago

I was never notified that I had to sign up for Part B when I turned 65. I did not realize I didn’t have it until I suffered a heart attack 3 weeks after my husband’s death when I was 81. Since the penalty is so high, should I just try to pay my medical bills from my savings? I only get $134 dollars a month Social Security.

Dan W.
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeannine

You may be able to get some direction regarding your Medicare question from AMAC’s ‘Your Medicare Advisor’ by Sabrinah Cave column which runs every Thursday. There is an AMAC phone number at the end of each column for advise regarding what Medicare plans to purchase but they also might be able to suggest a resource to help you answer your question.

Regarding your $134/mo Social Security payment, you may be able to get some direction on this issue from Russell Gloor, AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor through his weekly “Ask Rusty” column. He includes a space for questions at the end of each of his weekly columns (scroll back to Monday’s ‘Top Stories’ for his most recent weekly column).

I am not saying that your monthly $134 Social Security amount is incorrect but perhaps there is an additional benefit based on your husband’s work record that you have not yet applied for ?

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