Press Release             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Precht
Director of Policy and Communications
202-637-0961

Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications
212-204-6214

March 26, 2009

Over 120 Patient Advocacy Groups Support Legislation to Eliminate Two-Year Medicare Waiting Period

Washington, DC – The Coalition to End the Two-Year Wait for Medicare, over 120 organizations who work to ensure access to health care for people with disabilities, enthusiastically supports the introduction of Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009, S.700 and H.R.1708, which would eliminate the unjustifiable two-year delay in coverage for people with severe disabilities who are waiting to become eligible for Medicare coverage.

“Nearly 40 percent of people with disabilities are without health insurance coverage at some point during their wait for Medicare; 24 percent have no health insurance during this entire period. Many cannot afford to pay COBRA premiums to maintain coverage from their former employer, and private coverage on the individual market is unavailable or too expensive for this high-cost population,” the Coalition wrote to Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Representative Gene Green (D-TX).

“The waiting period forces people with severe disabilities to endure two years during which treatment and care of their condition are put at risk. As a result, people may forego care they cannot afford, complicating their condition and potentially raising the cost of care once Medicare does step in,” said Kimberly Cantor, Manager of Federal Government Relations from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “This means that costs to Medicare will likely be higher once the end of the waiting period is reached.”

“Our efforts to expand coverage to the uninsured must include people with disabilities and their families who struggle to pay medical bills and afford food and housing as they wait for Medicare coverage to begin,” said Diane Dorman, Vice President for Public Policy for the National Organization of Rare Diseases. “This arbitrary and cruel delay in health coverage for the most vulnerable among us must end.”

Efforts by Congress and the new administration to address America’s health care crisis provide a unique opportunity to end the two-year waiting period. As a senator, President Barack Obama was a cosponsor of the Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2007 when it was introduced into the 110th Congress.

(To read the letter and list of coalition members, please go to www.medicarerights.org/pdf/End-the-2-Year-Wait-Letter-March2009.pdf ).

 

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

 

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