Medicare Weekly News for November 14, 2005
Note: Medicare Weekly News (MWN) is a weekly series for newsmakers nationwide brought to you by the Medicare Rx Education Network.
MWN provides important information about a timely topic on the Medicare prescription drug benefit; it will
be distributed to newsrooms each Monday. For questions about the Network, please contact Brian Franklin at
Counselors Ready to Help Seniors With Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
As the enrollment period for the Medicare prescription drug benefit begins, the Medicare Rx Education Network is
encouraging Medicare beneficiaries to contact their local state health insurance assistance program to speak
one-on-one with a counselor. Every state has such a program, though it may be called by different names
(e.g., SHIP, SHINE, CLAIM, HICAP).
Beneficiaries can find a state’s health insurance program by contacting the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Eldercare
Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging and connects older Americans and their
caregivers with sources of information on senior services. The service links those who need assistance with
state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their
Open enrollment for the Medicare prescription drug benefit begins
and continues for six months (through May 15, 2006).
The Network’s educational campaign to inform beneficiaries about this new insurance continues through events,
advertising and training.
Counselors at state health insurance assistance programs are prepared to answer questions about the Medicare prescription
drug benefit, and help seniors review their choices. The Medicare Rx Education Network advises beneficiaries
to prepare before speaking with a counselor by putting together a list of the medications currently being
taken (including dosage, frequency taken, and cost for each), preferred pharmacies, and by noting down
current prescription drug coverage (if any).
The Medicare Rx Education Network provides information and assistance with outreach and enrollment for the new
Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. The network, which includes 70 national organizations, is chaired by former
U.S. Senator John Breaux. Members share an interest in educating Medicare beneficiaries about the new Medicare
prescription drug benefit and work closely with the appropriate federal agencies to obtain up-to-date information to
ensure that information disseminated by the network about Medicare Part D is factual and accurately conveyed,
thereby pre-empting confusion about the benefit and equipping beneficiaries and their caregivers to make informed
choices. By sharing information with each other about member organizations’ independent efforts, collaborating on
activities, and identifying ways to work together, the network aims to eliminate duplication of efforts and maximize the
effectiveness of outreach efforts. The network does not engage in legislative activities or take positions on pending
legislative or administrative policies related to the Part D benefit and its implementation.