Once a decade, the White House convenes experts, seniors, legislators and advocates to examine issue facing older Americans and plan for the future. This year’s White House Conference on Aging was held on Monday, July 13, 2015. The Center’s Executive Director, Judith Stein was honored to attend. The day focused on the power of our older generations to effect change themselves, and the overall need for advocacy. We were also reminded to plan with, not for, older adults. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez summed it up beautifully in his final charge, focusing, as we do, on advocacy. As Secretary Perez said, “All of us must be involved… We need your continued advocacy.”
Improved Enrollment Information
In concert with the White House Conference on Aging, the Administration announced the results of a concerted effort on the part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to improve the information available to individuals becoming eligible for Medicare.
The Medicare program has complicated rules about how other health insurance interacts with, or "coordinates" with Medicare coverage, and when someone can enroll in Parts A and B without penalty. Unfortunately, people are often unaware of these complicated rules or get bad information about how they work. As a result, they may have to pay premium penalties and may face many months, or longer, without access to Part B coverage.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., along with other national non-profit organizations through the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), called upon the White House Conference on Aging to use the convening as an opportunity to fill in some of these information gaps.
The Obama Administration delivered on this request. Among other things, CMS and SSA have:
- Updated the text accompanying Medicare cards to emphasize the importance of enrolling in Part B when you’re first eligible;
- Updated publications about Medicare to emphasize the importance of enrolling in Medicare when you’re first eligible;
- Updated frequently asked questions on Social Security’s and CMS’ websites, phone scripts, and training materials to better inform those who are newly eligible for Medicare; and
- Updated the Social Security Statement and the insert for people who are 55 and older to strengthen the message about when to apply for Medicare.
In addition, CMS will be updating their website and the Medicare initial enrollment package, updating more Medicare publications, and adding online resources for people who are still working.
For more information from the White House, see: http://www.whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov/blog.