It was one of the National Committee’s Legislative priorities this year and we’re happy to report that Social Security numbers will now be removed from Medicare cards. As the incidence of identity theft has risen it’s become clear that imprinting more than 50 million benefit cards with Americans’ Social Security numbers on the front put millions at risk. That’s why we supported legislation which would require the numbers be removed.
But it doesn’t come without a cost. The New York Times describes the funding:
Congress provided $320 million over four years to pay for the change. The money will come from Medicare trust funds that are financed with payroll and other taxes and with beneficiary premiums.
In his budget for 2016, Mr. Obama requested $50 million as a down payment “to support the removal of Social Security numbers from Medicare cards” — a step that federal auditors and investigators had been recommending for more than a decade.
More than 4,500 people a day sign up for Medicare. In the coming decade, 18 million more people are expected to qualify, bringing Medicare enrollment to 74 million people by 2025.
Medicare now has up to four years to start issuing new numbers on cards for new beneficiaries and four more years to reissue cards for those already in Medicare. Social Security numbers will be replaced with “a randomly generated Medicare beneficiary identifier.” The details are still being worked out.