BIAA Urges Repeal of Medicare's Two-Year Wait Period

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On November 12, 2008, BIAA joined the Coalition to End the Two-Year Wait for Medicare – which represents over 75 health advocacy organizations – in launching its campaign to urge the next Congress to end the 24-month wait for Medicare coverage faced by people with disabilities.

At a press conference held on Capitol Hill, people currently caught up in the waiting period described their experiences and Representative Gene Green (D-TX) described legislative efforts to eliminate the waiting period.

In addition, at the press conference Coalition leaders released a letter signed by Coalition members - including BIAA - addressed to Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. The letter calls for health coverage for people with disabilities to be at the forefront of future legislative efforts to cover the uninsured.

The issue this Coalition is working to address is that people who become severely and permanently disabled qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare coverage. However, according to federal statute, they must wait two years from their date of eligibility for SSDI before their Medicare coverage begins. About one quarter of people in this waiting period are without insurance for the entire time. Many cannot afford to pay COBRA premiums to maintain coverage from their former employer, and private coverage on the individual market is unavailable or too expensive for this high-cost population, including many individuals with brain injuries.

In a formal statement circulated at the press conference, BIAA noted that, "In causing delay of proper treatment, this unnecessary waiting period promotes increased lifelong disability for individuals with brain injury and significantly decreases cost efficiency in medical and rehabilitative treatment."