In 1972, Medicare expanded its benefits to include disabled individuals. Unfortunately, while expanding their services, Medicare instituted a waiting period designed to limit costs and make certain that only people with severe and long lasting disabilities would qualify. Many groups have worked to eliminate the unfair waiting period, without success. The only two exceptions are for those patients with end-stage kidney disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, who are now allowed quicker access.
The Medicare Rights Center released a report recently entitled “Too Sick to Work, Too Soon for Medicare: The Human Cost of the Two-Year Medicare Waiting Period for Americans with Disabilities”. This report discusses the stories of about 21 people who have been affected by this waiting period and was funded by the center and the Commonwealth Fund. The report comes along with renewed interest among members of Congress and the states to reduce the number of uninsured people.