Neal & Pallone Urge HHS to Extend Open Enrollment Period Due to Historic Hurricane Season

Sep 21, 2017
Press Release
“HHS should allow residents of affected states and territories additional leeway for both of the upcoming enrollment seasons.”

WASHINGTON, DC –Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price requesting the agency grant additional leeway for the upcoming open enrollment seasons for both Medicare and Marketplace Enrollment due to the historic damage inflicted on a number of states and territories over the past few weeks.

“HHS has additional authority to ensure that Americans affected by Harvey, Irma, and Maria can access critical HHS health care programs,” Neal and Pallone wrote to Secretary Price. “We ask that you use your authority to provide additional leeway for enrollment related choices. Many residents are focused on securing their houses, taking care of elderly neighbors, rebuilding amid flood damage and ensuring access to food, water and necessary treatment and medication. During this period of response and recovery, HHS should allow residents of affected states and territories additional leeway for both of the upcoming enrollment seasons.”

In the letter, Reps. Neal and Pallone request that the enrollment deadlines for Marketplace Enrollment and Medicare Advantage be extended through January 2018 to give individuals affected by the devastating hurricanes sufficient time to reestablish their lives and sign up for coverage. 

The members also expressed concern that individuals affected by the hurricanes that are eligible for Medicare Part B and Part D for the first time will miss enrollment deadlines and thus be forced to pay a lifetime of increased premiums as a result. To accommodate these individuals, Reps. Neal and Pallone are requesting a special election period and waiver of any premium penalty. The members also request flexibility in Part B premium collection and termination due to non-payment of premiums for beneficiaries who do not have premiums deducted from their Social Security checks.  

“These are commonsense measures that would provide much needed assistance and leeway for Americans affected by the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria,” the members continued in their letter to Secretary Price. “We hope that HHS will afford Americans affected by these storms the necessary understanding and flexibility to ensure that they can both focus on recovery and make informed decisions about their coverage for the year ahead.”

A copy of the letter is available here.