As we mentioned last week in an exclusive interview with Rep. Debbie Mucarsel- Powell (D), Congressional Democrats have focused on expanding Medicare, even though many like Rep. Mucarsel-Powell believe now is not the time for it.
Today, several Congressional Democrats introduced the Medicare Low-income Subsidy Expansion for Territories Act of 2019, which is bipartisan legislation that allows residents of America’s territories to become eligible for the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy program that begins in 2021.
Speaking on the bill, Rep. Darren Soto (D) asserted that “no senior should ever have to forego vital, life-saving healthcare just because of where they live.” In turn, Soto adds that “at a time when Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories are still suffering from the long-standing injustice of poverty, it’s more imperative than ever that we ensure our communities get the care they deserve.”
Moreover, Rep. Donna Shalala (D) also weighed in on the matter, calling the bill a better response for “the residents of Puerto Rick and other U.S. territories” who “have been treated like second-class citizens.”
She further expressed that “though these territories face many inequities, poverty – particularly among seniors, maybe their most daunting challenge to overcome. With this bill, Shalala calls it “an important step in not only helping alleviate poverty among seniors in Puerto Rico and other territories with aging populations,” adding that “it is also a meaningful stride towards better and more equitable treatment for American citizens who have far too long been ignored.”
The LIS program, otherwise known as the Extra Help program, is designed to help low-income individuals by providing subsidies to fully or partially cover out-of-pocket costs under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. The subsidies help cover or reduce out of pocket costs of Medicare Part D deductibles, premiums and coinsurance, and they also eliminate the prescription drug coverage gap and waive the penalty for late enrollment into Medicare Part D.