Smucker’s bipartisan bill closes Medicare loophole to ease transition from private healthcare

To help protect America’s senior citizens from coverage gaps in Medicare, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) on May 1 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would close the Medicare Part B-COBRA loophole.

“I have been fighting for this change to make the enrollment process easier since coming to Congress,” Rep. Smucker said. “I will work to secure support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and look forward to this bill’s passage.”

Rep. Smucker introduced the Medicare Enrollment Protection Act of 2024, H.R. 8217, with five original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN).

“This legislation is a common-sense effort to make healthcare more affordable for American seniors by providing a transition period before Medicare late enrollment penalties are applied,” said Rep. Smucker. “Seniors should be able to make their own choices and enroll in Medicare at an age that makes sense for themselves, not one set by the federal government.”

Under current law, anyone aged 65 years and older who does not enroll in Medicare Part B within eight months of retiring or being laid off from a job is penalized with a higher lifetime premium and a delayed start to Medicare coverage. This includes those who retire and opt into COBRA coverage, which essentially extends the coverage they received under their employer for up to an additional 18 months, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Smucker’s office.

If enacted, H.R. 8217 would provide for a special enrollment period under Medicare for individuals enrolled in COBRA continuation coverage to ensure the transition from private health care to Medicare is easy. 

“We should be making it easier for seniors to access the health care they need, not harder, and that’s what this common-sense, bipartisan bill does,” said Rep. Craig. “I’ll keep working across the aisle to cut bureaucratic red tape and make life easier for my constituents.”