Low-income Medicare beneficiaries are expected to see some much needed relief as a result of a new rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week. The rule seeks to simplify the enrollment and renewal processes for Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), as many beneficiaries are currently encumbered from enrolling due to the difficult processes for application and verification.
Under the rule, beneficiaries who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be automatically enrolled in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary eligibility group, which assists with premiums and cost-sharing. Modern Healthcare reports that the final rule will also require states to use Medicare Part D low-income subsidy (LIS) program data for making eligibility determinations.
The rule builds on President Joe Biden’s executive orders directing CMS to improve access to affordable coverage. Inside Health Policy notes that it will also assist the application process by eliminating duplicative paperwork, which CMS estimates will save around 19 million hours of paperwork for beneficiaries per year and 2 million hours in administrative work for the government.
In a press release, CMS said that following the rule’s proposal in August 2022, it received 7,000 comments that offered a number of strategies for program development, and this is the first of two proposed final rules. The second rule is expected to be announced in 2024. The agency noted that this is the most recent action taken by the White House to streamline enrollment in public health coverage programs.
In the same spirit, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would invest $8 million to improve training for new physicians related to the care for individuals with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency. The funds will be distributed through 18 awards and will focus on improving care access in historically underserved communities.
The rule and comments may be reviewed in full at the Federal Register.