Helping the Medicare Savings Programs Get Savings to Seniors

The Medicare Savings Programs provide assistance with premiums — and in some instances, cost sharing requirements — to Medicare beneficiaries of limited income and resources who do not qualify for full Medicaid benefits. Medicare Part B premiums currently amount to over $1,000 annually — which can be a large sum for some beneficiaries.

The savings programs were created to help low-income beneficiaries pay some or all of these costs. Yet, despite the financial assistance offered by these programs, less than one-third of all eligible participants are enrolled some 15 years after the programs first started.

The new Medicare Part D prescription drug program offers a helpful example of how to enroll this same population. Like the Medicare Savings Programs, Part D provides premium and cost-sharing assistance for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

What lessons does Part D enrollment offer that could apply to the savings programs? What techniques are working well for the savings programs that could apply to Part D enrollment? How could newly released recommendations from The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) improve the Medicare savings programs if implemented? How feasible are these recommendations?

To discuss these and related questions, The Commonwealth Fund and the Alliance for Health Reform sponsored a June 12, 2006 briefing. Panelists were: Jack Ebeler, who chairs the panel that made the NASI recommendations; Andy Schneider, Medicaid Policy, LLC; Jennifer Young, Tarplin, Downs and Young; and Kathy Kuhmerker, former Medicaid director for the State of New York. Stuart Guterman of Commonwealth and Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.

Transcript

Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Kathy Kuhmerker Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)