More Good News Regarding Equitable Relief for Part B Penalties

More Good News Regarding Equitable Relief for Part B Penalties

Earlier this month, we shared the good news that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the equitable relief for Part B penalties for one more year until September 30, 2019. We also found out that CMS is adopting our recommendation to create a permanent fix. Both of these changes will make a significant difference in the lives of many beneficiaries.

For some background, in September, California Health Advocates, together with many advocates, submitted a letter with a two-pronged ask. The first was that CMS extend eligibility for time-limited equitable relief for at least one more year, in part to give the agency more time to correct its outreach and education issues that continue to cause serious Medicare enrollment errors. Recognizing the statutory constraints of this policy, we also asked CMS to develop a more permanent solution, to ensure impacted beneficiaries are able to obtain relief after the eligibility dates are inevitably capped.

We recently received confirmation that CMS is addressing BOTH prongs of our ask at this time, by leaving the policy’s eligibility window open for another year AND by allowing affected beneficiaries to apply for that relief at any time in the future. This is great news and will positively impact numerous beneficiaries.

CMS provides an extensive fact sheet and Q&A on these changes. See CMS’ Assistance for Individuals with Medicare Part A and Exchange Coverage for more information.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.