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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Votes to Exempt Certain Bank Fees for Seniors: Legislation Provides Financial Relief for Seniors Applying for MassHealth
February 13, 2008

Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) on Tuesday voted to relieve certain financial burdens imposed on senior citizens applying for medical assistance. The legislation would change current law that requires seniors to pay a fee for bank records relative to their applications for MassHealth.


“Many senior citizens are living on fixed incomes, leaving little room for unexpected expenses,” said Downing.  “Steep bank fees can present real barriers to folks in this vulnerable position, and possibly prevent timely processing of MassHealth applications, further compromising their access to health care.  This legislation will ease the unnecessary hardship and improve quality of life for these seniors.”


In order for seniors to complete applications for MassHealth benefits, they must obtain past bank statements at a cost that, by some reports, can exceed $500 to meet the MassHealth application requirements. This legislation would eliminate such fees for seniors who present a letter from MassHealth requesting bank records.


Another negative side-effect of the existing fees can put seniors into life-threatening situations in which they are forced to reduce or even eliminate monthly medications in an effort to remain financially stable and meet their usual expenditures for food, heat, clothing and shelter.


The bill is now before the House of Representatives for final enactment.





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