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Highlights

To assist low-income beneficiaries with their share of premiums and other out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare, Congress has created four Medicare savings programs. Historic low enrollment in these programs has been attributed to several factors, including lack of awareness about the programs, and cumbersome eligibility determination and enrollment processes through state Medicaid programs. Concerned about this low enrollment, Congress passed legislation as part of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 (BIPA) requiring the Social Security Administration (SSA) to notify low-income Medicare beneficiaries of their potential eligibility for Medicare savings programs. The statute also required GAO to study the impact of SSA's outreach effort. GAO examined what outreach SSA undertook to increase enrollment, how enrollment changed following SSA's 2002 outreach, and how enrollment changed in selected states following SSA's outreach and what additional outreach efforts these states undertook. GAO reviewed information obtained from SSA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), analyzed enrollment data provided by SSA and CMS, and interviewed officials in and obtained data from six selected states (Alabama, California, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington).

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