WASHINGTON, DC, May 23, 2019 – Yesterday, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson (D-CT), and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Acting Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma. The letter addresses reports that an estimated 250,000 Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D members who asked to have their monthly premiums withheld from their Social Security benefits, starting in February 2019, have instead had no premiums withheld this calendar year. As a result of this error, affected seniors and individuals with disabilities will likely soon receive notifications that they owe several months of unpaid Medicare Advantage or Part D premiums. However, protections exist that ensure Medicare Advantage and Part D benefits will continue uninterrupted to affected members.
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Beneficiaries typically rely on modest incomes; on average, retirees receive just over $1,400 per month from Social Security. In their letter, Neal, Larson, and Lewis acknowledged that “the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have taken steps to mitigate this problem and re-establish SSA withholding of premiums,” and “CMS will be posting information for affected beneficiaries to its web site shortly,” but they also noted that “several outstanding questions remain.”
The members requested that by Wednesday, May 29, 2019, CMS and SSA provide the exact numbers of affected Medicare Advantage and Part D members, as well as a detailed accounting of how the withholding failure happened; what is being done to correct the problem; how the agencies are communicating information about the situation to beneficiaries; and what steps are being taken to prevent the problem from occurring again.
Full text of the letter is available HERE