ABOLISHING THE MEDICARE DISABILITY WAITING PERIOD

By Harold Pollack

I’m charged this week to tackle public health. I’m cheating a bit to venture into other health reform issues. Dean Baker over at TPMcafe suggested that the feds abolish the current 2-year waiting period for disabled people to receive Medicare. This is a pet issue of mine. I want to second him on this point.

Because I am a family caregiver, I ended up reaching out to disability advocates as a volunteer supporter for the Obama campaign. I wrote various articles, often for HuffPo—Ezra forgive me, again—on the importance of health reform to children and adults living with serious illness or injury, and to their families. Every time I wrote such a piece, my comment thread would fill up with heartrending stories of people facing challenging medical conditions who were deemed totally disabled, and who were often running up huge bills waiting for their Medicare eligibility. Many faced bewildering problems with Medicaid or with private insurers. Many, arguably the lucky ones, were paying high COBRA premiums they can’t afford. Not a few people die before they finish out the waiting period....

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