Good News for People on Medicare: Bipartisan Bills to Fight Unexpected Costs, Fraud

BREAKING NEWS: On August 6, President Obama signed the NOTICE Act into law!



On Wednesday, June 24, the Senate Finance Committee approved several bills to improve Medicare. AARP is especially pleased by the advancement of two of these bills: the Notice of Observation, Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act (S. 1349) and the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act (S. 861). AARP supports the NOTICE and PRIME Acts because they are commonsense, bipartisan bills which would help protect Medicare beneficiaries from unexpected costs, fraud and abuse.

The NOTICE Act is sponsored by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The bill would require that hospitals provide meaningful written and oral notification to patients who are in the hospital “under observation” for more than 24 hours.

Observation status” — when patients spend time in the hospital without being formally admitted — has become more prevalent in recent years and can expose beneficiaries to unexpectedly high out-of-pocket costs. The NOTICE Act is an important first step to ensuring Medicare beneficiaries have a clearer understanding of their hospital admission status, which will allow them to better plan treatment options with their health care provider.

The PRIME Act is led by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Enzi. The bill would:

  • Give the Department of Health and Human Services more flexibility to improve Medicaid program integrity
  • Reduce Medicare administrative contractor errors
  • Strengthen penalties for the illegal distribution of a Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP beneficiary identification
  • Improve data sharing between federal government and state Medicaid programs


In plain terms, PRIME would give Medicare and Medicaid more tools to fight waste, fraud and abuse.

Both bills now await action by the full Senate. The NOTICE Act has already passed the House of Representatives, and the PRIME Act is awaiting action by the full House. [UPDATE: On July 27, the Senate passed the NOTICE Act, and on August 6, President Obama signed the bill into law!]

AARP will continue advocating for these important pieces of legislation to protect Medicare beneficiaries. Check back here on the blog for future updates!


Follow me on Twitter @DavidCertner for the latest updates on what’s happening in Washington on the issues that matter most to older Americans.

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 11, 2018 10:07 AM
In an election year filled with partisanship and political fights, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel that their voices aren’t being heard or that the issues that affect their lives aren’t being addressed. But, many outstanding elected officials work hard every day to make a positive difference for their constituents.  That’s why AARP recognizes state legislators, governors, and other elected officials – from both sides of the aisle – who have stepped up and worked together to write, support, and advance common-sense policies that help older Americans remain in their homes and communities and retire with confidence. AARP is proud to announce our fifth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers, who fought this year to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones, along with our fourth annual bipartisan class of Super Savers, who championed policies that enhance retirement security.
December 05, 2018 01:06 PM
Caroline is a mother of two children and a preschool teacher who unexpectedly became a family caregiver for her father after he suffered a major stroke. Her father, Tom, now deceased, lost the use of his right side and his ability to speak. Multiple surgeries and rehabilitation treatments later, he was able to live at home with the help of nurses. But it was up to Caroline to provide daily care, such as overseeing appointments and handling certain nursing responsibilities, like managing his medications. “I became the person my father could rely on more than anyone in the world,” Caroline said. “I became his safe place and his best friend.” In communities across the country, family caregivers like Caroline are caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones, helping them to remain at home – where they want to be. Their tasks are done out of love and commitment, but are not easy. That’s why AARP is fighting for family caregivers and their loved ones in every state. In 2018, AARP advanced new policies to provide more help at home, flexibility at work, training, relief and more, which will benefit over 30 million family caregivers. Here are a couple highlights:
November 27, 2018 08:55 AM
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the vital role that transportation options play in what we at AARP call “livable communities” – great places to live for people of all ages. Being able to get around is critical to earn a living, raise a family, contribute and stay connected to your community and enjoy life. And, having alternatives to getting behind the wheel of your own car is particularly important for older adults who want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.