CMS grows outreach of Part D Extra Help program ahead of 2024 expansion

The Biden administration is rolling out new tools under its Extra Help program that it says will make it easier for seniors to afford medications in Part D.

The feds expanded eligibility for the Extra Help program as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, effective Jan. 1, 2024. Under the law, Medicare beneficiaries with limited resources and incomes of up to 150% of the federal poverty level can sign up for the full low-income subsidy.

That subsidy can be used to pay for Part D premiums as well as cost-sharing for medications. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a fact sheet that 300,000 people currently enrolled in the program stand to benefit from the expansion, and they could save nearly $300 per year on average.

HHS estimates that up to 3 million seniors and people with disabilities could stand to benefit from Extra Help but are not currently enrolled.

"The expansion of the Extra Help program provides an important opportunity to those who could benefit from the program’s lower cost premiums, deductibles, and copayments—now and when the program expands in 2024," HHS said in the fact sheet.

With the expansion on the near horizon, HHS said it will undertake a series of new, targeted outreach initiatives to get more eligible beneficiaries to enroll in Extra Help.

The Administration for Community Living will leverage equity data gathered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reach out to people living in rural and underserved communities. CMS will also make available more data on potential savings in the program as well as those who would be eligible.

CMS will also make a toolkit available to community organizations that will enable them to raise awareness about Extra Help and assist Medicare beneficiaries in signing up for the program. 

The new programs build on previous outreach from CMS, including 1.2 million targeted mailers sent out to seniors and disabled people about Extra Help and other Medicare Savings Programs that they may qualify for.

"CMS is committed to cutting red tape to ensure the application, verification, enrollment, and renewal processes for MSPs are less burdensome for people to navigate," according to the fact sheet.