Date: July 17, 2008
House and Senate Override President's Veto of H.R. 6331, the
“Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008”
On July 15, 2008, the President vetoed H.R. 6331. Subsequently, on that same day, the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to override the President's veto of the bill. The House vote was 383–41 and the Senate vote was 70–26. H.R. 6331 became P.L. 110-275.
A general description of the bill may be found in Legislative Bulletins 110-29 and 110-32. P.L. 110-275 contains the following provisions of interest to SSA:
Eliminating Barriers to Medicare Savings Programs Enrollment (Title I, Section 113)
• Requires SSA to provide applicants for Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) with information about Medicare Savings Programs (MSP) assistance, including information about how to contact the State health insurance assistance program (SHIP).
• Requires SSA (with the consent of those filing) to transmit LIS application data to the States. Once received, the LIS data will serve as a protective filing for MSP, with State agencies being required to complete appropriate MSP development and make eligibility determinations. The content, form, and manner in which information (on a uniform basis for all States) shall be transmitted will be determined by the Commissioner, in consultation with HHS and the States. Effective January 1, 2010.
• Requires SSA to provide MSP training to employees currently involved in LIS application-taking, so that those employees can promote beneficiary awareness of MSP, thereby increasing MSP participation.
• Provides start-up funding of $24.1 million to SSA for activities related to MSP outreach and transmittal of data to states. Funds will be appropriated as of October 1, 2008, and remain available until expended. Ongoing funding for MSP-related activities will be provided, beginning with fiscal year 2011, through a separate ongoing appropriation of $3 million annually to HHS. HHS will provide this funding to SSA via a reimbursable agreement, and the funds will only be available to HHS for this specific purpose.
• Provides funding of $24.8 million to SSA for LIS activities required due to changes in MSP and LIS programs. Funds will be appropriated as of October 1, 2008, and remain available until expended.
Exemption From Income and Resources for Determination of Eligibility for Low-Income Subsidy (Title I, Section 116)
• Eliminates counting in-kind support and maintenance as income and life insurance as a resource for LIS purposes. Effective for applications filed on or after January 1, 2010.
Judicial Review of Decisions of the Commissioner of Social Security Under the Low-Income Subsidy Program (Title I, Section 117)
• Codifies SSA's existing policy that denied LIS applicants can appeal to the civil courts, once the administrative appeals process is exhausted. Effective as if enacted with the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.
Translation of Standardized Medicare Savings Programs Application (Title I, Section 118)
• Requires HHS to translate their model MSP application into at least the 10 languages (other than English) most often used by Medicare applicants, and to make the translated forms available at Social Security offices. Effective January 1, 2010.
OTHER PROVISIONS OF INTEREST:
• Extends the Qualifying Individual (QI) program through December 2009 (QI is one of the Medicare Savings Programs). Additional funding of $200 million will be provided through December 2008, with an additional $500 million for 2009. (Title I, Section 111)
• Applies the LIS standard resources test ($6,290 for an individual/$9,440 for a couple in 2008) to MSP. As with the LIS program, the MSP resource limitations will be adjusted annually according to changes in the consumer price index. Effective January 1, 2010. (Title I, Section 112)
• Eliminates Part D late enrollment penalties for individuals who are eligible for LIS. Effective January 1, 2009. (Title I, Section 114)
• Clarifies that, in the event of a recipient's death, the State is not allowed to attempt recovery (through the recipient's estate) of costs associated with providing MSP assistance. Effective January 1, 2010. (Title I, Section 115)