Yesterday, Medicare Rights Center President Fred Riccardi testified at a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health titled “Legislation to Improve Americans’ Health Care Coverage and Outcomes.”
In the testimony, Medicare Rights urged Congress to pass the bipartisan, bicameral Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 2477) without delay.
The BENES Act is urgently needed to modernize and simplify the Medicare Part B enrollment process. Currently, far too many people make honest mistakes when trying to understand and navigate this confusing system. The consequences of such missteps are significant—including late enrollment penalties, higher out-of-pocket health care costs, gaps in coverage, and barriers to accessing needed services.
Unfortunately, many people do make mistakes. Year after year, among the most frequent calls to our National Consumer Helpline are from older adults and people with disabilities eligible for Medicare who inadvertently and through no fault of their own failed to enroll in Part B on time and are experiencing severe repercussions.
Introduced by Representatives Ruiz (D-CA), Bilirakis (R-FL), Schneider (D-IL), and Walorski (R-IN), the BENES Act would help prevent these costly errors. It would fill long-standing gaps in outreach and education, eliminate needless breaks in coverage, and inform future policymaking on enrollment period alignment. The BENES Act’s long overdue, commonsense changes would better empower people who are approaching Medicare eligibility to make optimal, timely coverage decisions that build their health and economic security.
To improve the health and financial well-being of current and future Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare Rights urges Congress to pass the BENES Act this year.