Young introduces bipartisan bill to enhance Medicare enrollment process

Legislation from U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) would improve the Medicare enrollment process by establishing a system to alert seniors as they approach eligibility and by addressing coverage gaps that disrupt benefits.

Under the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Social Security Administration and the IRS would develop a notification process that alerts individuals before they become eligible for Medicare and provides information about how Medicare works with other insurance plans.

“Currently, seniors who miss the sign-up deadline for Medicare Part B face onerous penalties that persist for the rest of their lives,” Young said. “The BENES Act will make the signup process more efficient and friendly to our seniors so they have the financial backstop needed to access quality medical care.”

Additionally, the measure would address glitches in the fifth, sixth and seventh month of the initial enrollment period and the general enrollment period that can result in temporary disruption of coverage.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who introduced the bill with Young on Thursday, said Congress must do everything possible to improve the enrollment process as more and more people age into Medicare. “By working in a bipartisan, common sense fashion, we can ensure that more people are saving money and receiving the coverage they need when they need it,” Casey said.

The BENES Act has also generated support from nearly 70 organizations that advocate on behalf of seniors, people with disabilities, insurers and medical providers.

“Far too many people with Medicare are saddled with a lifetime of higher healthcare costs and go without needed services due to fragmented and archaic Part B enrollment processes,” Joe Baker, the president of the Medicare Rights Center, said. “The BENES Act will prevent the calls that come into our helpline every day from seniors and people with disabilities caught in a complicated web of Medicare enrollment rules.”