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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Green Seeks to End Medicare Waiting Period for Individuals with Disabilities

June 15, 2005
Press Release
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) announced today that he has re-introduced the Ending the Medicare Waiting Period Act of 2005.  This legislation (HR 2869) would phase out the 24 month waiting period that individuals with disabilities must endure before they can receive health insurance under the Medicare program.
The current Medicare law forces individuals with disabilities to wait at least two years for Medicare coverage at a time when health care is most critical, said Congressman Gene Green.  Unfortunately, however, the Medicare waiting period is just one of three waiting periods that disabled Americans must endure before gaining Medicare eligibility.  First, they must wait for the Social Security Administration to make a disability determination.  At that point, individuals with disabilities must wait five months to begin receiving SSDI payments.  Only once the SSDI payments begin does the clock start on the 24 month waiting period for Medicare coverage.  It is shameful for our country to withhold necessary health coverage when disabled Americans need it most.
When Congress expanded the Medicare program in 1972 to assist individuals with severe disabilities, it included a provision stipulating that individuals must wait 24 months from the date of their SSDI determination to receive Medicare benefits.  The Ending the Medicare Waiting Period Act would phase out the waiting period over ten years.  In the meantime, the legislation creates a process by which individuals with life-threatening diseases can gain exemption from the waiting period.
Currently there are six million Americans under the age of 65 that are subject to the  Medicare waiting period, Green said.  While most of these individuals have some form of health insurance enabling them to seek necessary health care, an estimated 400,000 Americans in the waiting period are currently uninsured.   By eliminating the Medicare waiting period, this legislation would provide individuals with disabilities that are uninsured, access to the quality health care that will enable them to remain active, productive members of society.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, the elimination of the Medicare Waiting Period would achieve $1.8 billion in annual Medicaid savings.  The Ending the Medicare Waiting Period Act has been endorsed by more than forty health care organizations, including the Alzheimers Association, Families USA, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the National Organization for Rare Diseases, and Special Olympics.  Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Sen. Mike DeWine have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Congressman Gene Green extends his appreciation to the 21
Members of Congress who demonstrated their commitment to the Ending the Medicare Waiting Period Act of 2005 by becoming original co-sponsors  of the bill:
Rep Baca, Joe [D-CA-43] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Brown, Sherrod [D-OH-13] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Capps, Lois [D-CA-23] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep DeGette, Diana [D-CO-1] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Doggett, Lloyd [D-TX-25] - 6/13/2005 * 
Rep Farr, Sam [D-CA-17] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [D-TX-20] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [D-AZ-7] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Hinojosa, Ruben [D-TX-15] - 6/13/2005 * 
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Lee, Barbara [D-CA-9] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep McDermott, Jim [D-WA-7] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [D-TX-27] - 6/13/2005 * 
Rep Reyes, Silvestre [D-TX-16] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Ryan, Tim [D-OH-17] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Solis, Hilda L. [D-CA-32] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [D-CA-13] - 6/13/2005 * 
Rep Strickland, Ted [D-OH-6] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Stupak, Bart [D-MI-1] - 6/13/2005 *
Rep Towns, Edolphus [D-NY-10] - 6/13/2005 *