This week, the Medicare Rights Center released a new brief, Medicare Snapshot: Stories from the Helpline: Improving New York State Access to Medicare Savings Programs, which spotlights ways to improve access to Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) in New York. MSPs can help Medicare beneficiaries with low-incomes save thousands of dollars in health care costs each year, however, they are consistently under-enrolled and under-utilized. Drawing on its experiences in New York and other states, Medicare Rights identifies a series of actions that state and local agencies could take to further improve access to MSPs and related benefits in New York.
Each year, the Medicare Rights Center successfully processes more than 1,000 MSP applications on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities with low-incomes in New York. While some states, including New York, recognize the challenges inherent in enrolling people in these programs, people who need this benefit continue to face needless difficulty in accessing it.
To address these difficulties in New York, the Medicare Snapshot outlines needed improvements to the MSP application, enrollment, and recertification processes for those transitioning from expansion Medicaid or Qualified Health Plans, including:
- Automatic “sweeps” to enroll eligible individuals in MSPs
- A more automatic transition process for people with disabilities;
- Movement toward Medicare and MSP notification for individuals aging out of a Qualified Health Plan;
- Movement toward passive recertification for MSPs in New York City; and
- Improved MSP information for people with Medicaid who are turning 65.
The Medicare Rights Center’s helpline offers a window into how individuals access MSPs, and the trends we identify motivate our ongoing efforts to further increase awareness of MSPs and improve enrollment rates. We will continue to monitor implementation of new reforms and continue to advocate for additional improvements to MSP processes, with the goal of seeing statewide MSP enrollment rates increase over the coming years.
To learn more about MSPs and get help applying for the benefit, people with Medicare and caregivers can visit Medicare Interactive, the Medicare Rights’ informational website at www.medicareinteractive.org, or call its national helpline at 800-333-4114. Other resources include 1-800-Medicare and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
Medicare Snapshot: Stories from the Helpline is available at: https://www.medicarerights.org/medicare-snapshot-september-2017
Support for this work was provided by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth).