* a copy of this letter was also sent to Rep. Pallone

September 20, 2016

The Honorable Ron Wyden
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Wyden: 

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to endorse the “Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act of 2016.”  Like you, we believe it is important to improve Medicare for beneficiaries.  In order to accomplish this, your legislation includes proposals that have been National Committee priorities for many years.

We support provisions in the “Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act” that would cap out-of-pocket costs in traditional Medicare, increase financial assistance for low-income beneficiaries, align the Medicare Savings Programs and Low-Income Subsidy and eliminate the 24-month waiting period for Medicare coverage for people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.  In addition, we support provisions in your bill that make commonsense changes in the enrollment period for Medicare, aligning it with open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Part D and eliminating gaps between enrollment and when actual coverage begins.  We also appreciate the limit on the Part B late enrollment penalty.  The current penalty permanently hikes the premiums of individuals who may be confused about when to apply for Medicare, such as individuals who choose to defer Social Security when they turn 65 and are not automatically enrolled in the program.  And, we support permanent funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) and the National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment.  These programs help educate and assist beneficiaries so they can make the best choices about their Medicare coverage or receive help when appealing an adverse decision.

Medicare goes a long way in preventing poverty and promoting greater access to health care for people 65 years of age and older and people with disabilities.  However, Medicare’s cost-sharing – for premiums, deductibles and coinsurance – and out-of-pocket costs for gaps in Medicare coverage are a great financial burden or unaffordable for many people.  We look forward to working with you to secure enactment of the “Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act,” which would improve the Medicare program for the growing number of beneficiaries.


Max Richtman
President and CEO