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House Leaders Urge New Notice for People Nearing Medicare Eligibility

Ranking leaders of key U.S. House Committees and the co-chairs of the U.S. House Seniors Task Force recently sent a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration to develop a system to ensure that all individuals nearing Medicare eligibility receive timely and complete notice about Medicare enrollment.

The letter recognizes the complexity of making informed decisions about when to enroll in Medicare and the consequences of enrollment errors, and urges these federal agencies to use the 2015 White House Conference on Aging as a platform for change.

Congressman Sander Levin, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Robert C. Scott, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui signed the letter.

“With our healthcare system changing, and with new options available to them, eligible seniors should have access to the information they need to navigate Medicare and get the quality care they deserve,” said Levin. “Medicare needs to do more to help seniors understand their healthcare options when they turn 65.”

Currently, no federal agency provides notification about Medicare eligibility to individuals not yet collecting Social Security benefits-meaning those not automatically enrolled in Medicare are not informed about enrollment rules and policies. Honest enrollment mistakes can result in lifetime premium penalties, gaps in health coverage, and higher healthcare costs.

“We applaud Congressman Levin, Congressman Pallone, Congressman Scott, Congresswoman Schakowsky, and Congresswoman Matsui for bringing this important issue to the attention of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “Time and time again, we hear from callers to our national helpline who face a lifetime of higher Medicare premiums and who face many months without health coverage, simply because they were uninformed about Medicare enrollment rules.”

To read the letter, visit www.medicarerights.org/pdf/062515-house-letter-on-transition-to-medicare.pdf.

This article was adapted from information provided by the Medicare Rights Center.

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