Bass & Bradley Urge CMS to Waive Medicare Late Enrollment Penalty for New Hampshire Seniors Affected by Flooding

For Immediate Release:

Friday, June 16, 2006

Contact: Stephanie DuBois (BRADLEY)

202-225-5456

Lindsay Jackson (BASS)

202-225-5206

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Reps. Charles Bass and Jeb Bradley (R-NH) sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) Administrator Mark McClellan yesterday urging him to waive the Medicare late enrollment penalty until January 1, 2007 for New Hampshire residents in light of the heavy rains and severe flooding that began on May 12th,shortly before the enrollment deadline of May 15th.

CMS recently announced that it will begin a demonstration program that waives the enrollment penalty until January 1, 2007 for individuals eligible for the Limited Income Subsidy (LIS) and those living in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Bass and Bradley are urging Administrator McClellan to include New Hampshire seniors in this pilot program.

Bass stated, "The flooding to our state this past May reached historic levels in many areas, causing widespread damage and loss. While our local seniors were struggling with serious damage to their homes and property, many were unable to sign up for Medicare Part D before the enrollment deadline, which fell just days after this flooding. It would be regrettable to require these individuals to pay the late-enrollment penalty fee. We urge CMS to consider our solution to alleviate this additional stress on our seniors."

Bradley stated, "The severe flooding in May knocked out electricity, closed roads, and forced some residents to evacuate their homes, preventing some seniors from being able to meet the May15th enrollment deadline. These seniors now have to wait until November 15th to enroll in a plan while incurring a one percent penalty for each month they are not enrolled. We hope that CMS will consider New Hampshirefor this pilot program. We should not penalize New Hampshire seniors who did not sign up for a Medicare plan because of factors attributable to the flooding."

Earlier this year, Bradley introduced legislation in the House to waive the late penalty until January 1, 2007 for all seniors eligible to sign up for Medicare.