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July 6, 1998

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Today I am launching a national effort to educate every single Medicare recipient about this opportunity -- using the mail, Medicare and Social Security notices, case workers, field offices, working with state governments, and using the Internet. Through this effort, hundreds of thousands of older and low-income Americans will receive more affordable health care without any new Congressional action. This is a duty we owe our parents and our fellow citizens, and we should honor it. It is the right thing to do.

-President Bill Clinton
July 6, 1998

Today, President Clinton announced a new outreach campaign to help millions of low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities receive assistance in paying Medicare premiums. The President has requested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) launch a multi-faceted effort to enroll eligible Medicare beneficiaries in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program and related programs that pay for Medicare premiums and, for eligible recipients, copayments and deductibles.

The Need To Inform Medicare Beneficiaries Of Their Options. A study by Families USA reports that over 3 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries are not enrolled in either the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program or related programs that pay Medicare premiums and, for eligible recipients, copayments and deductibles. These assistance programs were expanded in last year's Balanced Budget Act. However, many eligible beneficiaries are not aware of these cost-sharing protections and others have difficulty accessing this critically needed assistance.

A Presidential Plan To Educate Eligible Recipients. The President is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to launch a multi-faceted effort to enroll eligible Medicare beneficiaries in QMB and related programs. HHS and SSA will make unprecedented efforts to ensure that beneficiaries know about these programs, including:

  • Sending Written Information To All 38 Million Medicare Beneficiaries about this vital program;
  • Informing Every New Medicare Beneficiary about this program in the initial enrollment package they receive;
  • Including Information Describing This Program And An Eligibility Screening Worksheet on the new Medicare Web Site, www.Medicare.gov;
  • Sending Program Information To More Than 36 Million Individuals receiving Social Security benefits in the annual cost-of-living adjustment notices distributed in the fall.
  • Distributing 450,000 Pamphlets and placing posters in SSA's 1,300 field offices;
  • Targeting Eligible Beneficiaries through direct mailings. SSA will identify, and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) will send out, a letter to those most likely to be eligible for this program.

Working With States And The Private Sector To Develop Enrollment Strategies. This initiative will bring together federal and state agencies and the private sector to enroll eligible recipients. These efforts include:

  • Encouraging The Use Of A Simplified Application Process. The HCFA will send a letter to State Medicaid agencies that includes a model, simplified application as well as examples of successful outreach and enrollment programs. HCFA will encourage states to adopt simple, user-friendly procedures such as a mail-in application.
  • Creating A Federal-State-Consumer Advocate Task Force to develop new strategies to enroll eligible beneficiaries. HHS, SSA, the National Governor's Association and advocates of the elderly and people with disabilities will collaborate to identify and implement strategies to educate beneficiaries about this program and make enrollment easier.
  • Providing The State Insurance Counseling And Assistance Programs (ICAs) With Material to assist beneficiaries in enrolling in the premium assistance program.

Building On A Commitment To Those In Need. Today's announcement builds on President Clinton's ongoing commitment to identifying and enrolling vulnerable, low income Americans in this important program. Already, HCFA is providing training material on identifying and assisting potential beneficiaries to health care providers, advocates, and States. SSA has included information on programs in SSA pamphlets and handouts and conducted training for staff who interact with beneficiaries. These efforts, along with today's initiatives, are helping to ensure that those in need are given the protections and coverage they deserve.

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