Caregiver looks over senior's shoulder at home in the kitchen

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule Monday that will make it easier and more affordable for people to enroll in Medicare Savings Programs.

MSPs, run by state Medicaid programs, currently cover Medicare premiums and, in most cases, cost-sharing for more than 10 million older adults and people with disabilities who also have limited incomes. Enrolling in MSPs can be a cumbersome process, according to CMS, as “burdensome and duplicative paperwork” can discourage eligible people from enrolling.

CMS estimates that only about half of people eligible for MSP enrollment actually take the time to do so, partially because of long-winded application and verification processes. Simplifying this process will also save people time, allowing them to focus on other areas of their health.

“This final rule will help hundreds of thousands of people access healthcare while also freeing up already limited income for food, housing and other life necessities,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, said in a statement.

In the new final rule, many Supplemental Security Income recipients will now be enrolled automatically into the most comprehensive form of MSP coverage: the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary eligibility group, which covers Medicare premiums and cost sharing. In doing this, CMS expects to eliminate almost 19 million hours of paperwork for beneficiaries.

The final rule will also implement strategies to “make better use” of Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS) data, with the goal of informing future action to expand LIS and reduce prescription drug costs, according to CMS. The new rule and prescription drug cost-saving policies by President Biden are estimated to make Medicare coverage more affordable for older adults and people with disabilities, the release said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.