Aging, Disability, and Faith-Based Groups Urge Congress to Protect Low-Income People with Medicare
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Aging, Disability, and Faith-Based Groups Urge Congress to Protect Low-Income People with Medicare

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December 9, 2013

Media Contact
Jean Van Ryzin
202-600-3166
jean.vanryzin@ncoa.org

60 Organizations Call for Making Medicare QI Program Permanent

Washington, DC – The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and 59 other diverse national organizations are urging Congress to make the low-income Medicare Qualified Individual (QI) program permanent as part of the Medicare physician payment (SGR) bill, scheduled to be considered by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees this week. 

The QI program pays Part B premiums for Medicare beneficiaries with incomes of between 120-135% of poverty (about $14,000-$15,500 a year) and less than $7,080 in assets. Without the QI benefit, these vulnerable seniors could be forced to drop their Part B benefit and lose access to their doctors—or pay over $1,200 in new, additional premiums.

Since December 2002, QI funding has been extended on a year-to-year basis—as part of “extenders” packages, crafted primarily to ensure that Medicare physician payments are not drastically cut. Once again, current QI funding will end Dec. 31, 2013 unless Congress acts. 

More than half of Medicare QI beneficiaries already spend over a quarter of their meager incomes on health care. Without QI assistance, this would rise to about 40% of their income.

“If Congress fails to make the QI program permanent, a senior with just a $14,000 income could only have $9,000 left for all their other living expenses,” said Howard Bedlin, NCOA Vice President of Public Policy & Advocacy. “Congress should not leave low-income Medicare beneficiaries out in the cold.”

Congress can provide protection and stability for half a million vulnerable, low-income beneficiaries by making the QI program permanent as part of a broader, bipartisan package to reform Medicare physician payments. NCOA and the other leading national organizations are asking Congress to fix both problems at the same time, ensuring that all people with Medicare have access to physicians and quality, affordable health care.

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About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org.

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