April 13, 2022

Cortez Masto Leads Letter Calling on Administration to Protect Seniors From Health Coverage Gaps

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led a group of senators in calling on the administration to ensure that seniors currently enrolled in Medicaid have a smooth path to Medicare coverage after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. The letter calls on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) Administrator Brooks-LaSure to establish a special enrollment period for these beneficiaries to sign up for coverage, and waive any related late-enrollment fees they may have accrued.

“We appreciate the important services and supports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has administered to help older Americans utilize telehealth, access COVID-19 testing, vaccines and treatment free of charge, and maintain comprehensive coverage,” wrote the Senators. “However, as the threat of the virus begins to subside and the Biden Administration considers terminating the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), we are concerned that the Medicare beneficiaries may experience avoidable gaps in coverage.”

Nearly 875,000 Nevadans are enrolled in Nevada Medicaid—including 230,000 more people since the start of the pandemic, such as seniors who may have remained on Medicaid despite becoming eligible for Medicare over the course of the pandemic. As the COVID emergency program ends, these seniors risk losing access to the care they need and facing late enrollment fees.

“We urge you to provide a smooth transition to Medicare coverage for these seniors through a special enrollment period, and to exempt them from any financial penalties that would otherwise be assessed for late enrollment,” the Senators continued. “CMS and stakeholder partners should conduct extensive outreach to raise awareness among seniors of this coverage change, and ensure they have the tools and information necessary to choose the Medicare coverage option that works best for them.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

Senator Cortez Masto is a leader in the Senate in ensuring older Nevadans can access quality, affordable health care. She helped extend Medicare enrollees’ access to telehealth services in the recent government funding bill. In February, the senator urged the Biden administration to continue supporting the Medicare Advantage program, which provides quality health care to 27 million seniors and people with disabilities. She has cosponsored legislation to make health care more affordable by giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, capping drug costs, and limiting egregious price hikes by drug manufacturers. She has also worked to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.