Federal Action Needed to Aid Low-Income Seniors, Panel Says

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<p>Although the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) were created to help low-income elderly and disabled people pay Medicare's premiums and cost-sharing, fewer than one in three eligible Americans is enrolled. Today, an independent panel established by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) is calling for federal action to get more of those eligible the assistance for which they qualify.<br><br>According to the panel's findings, released today on the <a href="http://www.nasi.org/publications2763/publications_show.htm?doc_id=37647… web site</a>, enrollment barriers include lack of awareness that the MSPs exist, a burdensome application process, and the reluctance of people to apply for benefits through a Medicaid agency. Support for the panel's report was provided by The Commonwealth Fund, with dissemination support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.<br><br>The panel says one option to increase enrollment is to build on the Social Security Administration's ongoing efforts to enroll people in Medicare's low-income prescription drug subsidy. Another course of action would be to simplify and liberalize eligibility rules, providing greater uniformity between the MSPs and the low-income drug subsidy; although this approach would increase spending, it would be effective in reaching the low-income Medicare beneficiaries that the programs were intended to help.</p>