Issues and Action

What's New

Read Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker�s statement on President Obama�s remarks to finalize health care reform legislation, and our new report on the problems of implementing MIPPA (Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act) provisions meant to facilitate enrollment in Medicare Savings Programs. All this and more in this week�s Medicare Watch, our newly revamped policy newsletter. Read the current issue.

Issues We're Working On

Eliminate Waiting Period for People with Disabilities

After proving they are permanently disabled and cannot work, people with disabilities must currently wait two years before they can receive the health coverage they need. These people should be eligible for Medicare as soon as they receive their Social Security Disability Benefits.


The Coalition to End the Two-Year Wait for Medicare sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge that health reform legislation ensure affordable coverage for people with disabilities. Read the letter.

Fix the Part D Drug Benefit

Medicare Part D is broken. People with Medicare who reach the coverage gap or "doughnut hole," the time when they must pay the full price of their prescription drugs, often stop taking their medication, skip doses or split pills. Older adults and people with disabilities deserve stable, affordable prescription drug coverage.


Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker sent a letter to Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi to call for health reform legislation to close the doughnut hole and improve access to low-income assistance. Read the letter.

Reform the Medicare Private Health Plan Marketplace

Medicare private health plans, also known as Medicare Advantage plans, are more expensive than the government-run Original Medicare program. As a result, private insurance companies have rushed to grab a piece of the Medicare pie, and consumer and marketing fraud have become rampant.

If costs of the private plans were brought to the same level as that of Original Medicare, taxpayers would save $150 billion over the next ten years!


Medicare Rights submitted comments on CMS's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was released in October 2009. Read the comments.

Make Low-income Assistance More Accessible

Everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, should be able to get the care and benefits they need.

Applications for financial assistance should be made easier to complete; asset tests should be eliminated; and the application process should be streamlined to allow someone who enrolls in one program to be automatically enrolled in all other programs for which he or she qualifies.


Medicare Rights Center released a preliminary report on state implementation of reforms to Medicare Savings Programs that are required under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) of 2020. Read the report.

Improve the Government's Medicare Counseling and Consumer Education Programs

As Medicare becomes more complex, consumers' confusion and frustration are increasing as well. People with Medicare need clear and understandable information now more than ever. The principal source of information—1-800-Medicare—provides poor service and unreliable information at a high cost, while community-based organizations better suited to provide one-on-one counseling do not have the tools or resources they need.

CMS needs to overhaul its counseling and consumer education programs to meet the needs of people with Medicare.


Medicare Rights released a statement by President Joe Baker on CMS's new Office of External Affairs and Beneficiary Services. The new office will be responsible for all of CMS's efforts to communicate with consumers. Read the statement.