More New York seniors will be eligible for Medicare Savings Programs starting this year. New guidelines increase the amount of income seniors can have to be eligible for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary or Qualified Individual Programs. Individuals and couples with up to 138% of the federal poverty level are eligible for a Medicare Savings Program.
Valerie Bogart, director of the Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program at the New York Legal Assistance Group, said these expansions have been needed for years, and would make up for some of the deficiencies of the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program.
“The EPIC program is a great program, but it still costs a senior money and it discriminates against younger people with disabilities,” she said. “That’s an expansion that’s still needed.”
Since the EPIC program is only available for people ages 65 and older, people with chronic disabilities are struggling to pay for their medications. Along with these expansions, the asset limit for Medicaid doubled. In 2022, the limits were $16,800 for individuals and $24,600 dollars for couples. Now they’re $30,182 for individuals and $40,821 dollars for couples.
Now that seniors have expanded Medicare coverage, Bogart added there are other health-care shortcomings that need to be addressed. Specifically, all immigrants need to have health-care coverage, she said. Given how the COVID-19 pandemic put the need for health care in the spotlight, this is the last big gap in coverage needing to be filled.
“If nothing else, COVID was just an object lesson in the importance of public health. So, what is public health if you have a whole segment of the population who is not covered,” she explained.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 25% of lawfully present immigrants and almost half of undocumented immigrants were uninsured in 2021. But, recently, the Biden Administration announced a plan to expand access to the Affordable Care Act to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.