Issues We Are Working On

imageThe Medicare Rights Center is on the frontlines every day. We listen to the clients who call our hotline and to the counselors and other professionals who work with people who have Medicare.

Our Consumer Action Board works with our policy and communications staff to strengthen the voice of consumers in local, state and national health care policy discussions. The Policy Advisory Committee, a group of health care experts, provides national and historical perspectives on Medicare issues.

We’re constantly learning important lessons that we translate into practical recommendations for making Medicare work better for everyone, now and in the future.

Today, we’re working to:

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.

Read more about the subject: Too Sick to Work, Too Soon for Medicare: The Human Cost of the Two-Year Medicare Waiting Period for Americans with Disabilities

Add a Drug Coverage Option to the Original Medicare Program

Drug coverage is the only Medicare benefit that is not available through the traditional, government-administered program. It is available only from private insurance companies, which results in higher costs and confusion for consumers.

Read more about the subject: The Best Medicine: A Drug Coverage Option Under Original Medicare

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 $65 billion over the next five years!

Read more about the subject: Too Good to Be True: The Fine Print in Medicare Private Health Plan Benefits

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.

Read more about the subject: Medicare Savings Plans and Low Income Subsidy: Keeping Medicare's Promise

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.

Read more about the subject: Proposal to Restructure and Improve Counseling and Education for Medicare Consumers