Editor’s note: The following information was provided by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau.
STATE HOUSE — The Senate yesterday passed legislation sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller allowing a special Medicare Part B enrollment period, now that the federal health emergency has been expired.
The legislation (2023-S 0797), which now goes to the House, requires any insurer offering Medicare Part B supplemental coverage in Rhode Island to issue Medicare Part B policies to any individual who was enrolled in it during the federal health emergency, and was also enrolled in the Rhode Island Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid), if they remained in Medicaid as a result of the suspension of terminations during the state of emergency.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act enacted in 2020 forbade states from dropping enrollees from Medicaid coverage during the public health emergency that was first declared in January 2020. The protections of that act expired in April, and Rhode Island has begun reviewing renewals.
Chairman Miller’s bill would ensure that those who were enrolled in Part B during the emergency will not be disenrolled.
Under the bill, insurers would not be allowed to deny or place conditions on the supplemental insurance that is offered to these enrollees, to discriminate in pricing based on health status, claims experience, receipt of health care, or medical condition, or impose any exclusion of benefits based on pre-existing conditions.
Eligible Rhode Islanders would have to apply within 63 days of their termination from Medicaid, and submit evidence of the date of termination.
Ordinarily, those who want to enroll in Part B must do it in a period starting three months before their 65th birthday and ending three months after it, with some exceptions. If they wish to enroll at a later date, they may face financial penalties.
“People who were on Medicaid during the pandemic are among those who can least afford the high costs of health care. If they were enrolled in Medicare Part B during that time, they shouldn’t be kicked off to face the risks of high medical costs that they simply can’t afford,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).
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