Medicare Weekly News for November 14, 2005

Contact: Brian Franklin
202-312-1098

MEDIA ALERT

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 202-312-1098.

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 caregivers.

Open enrollment for the Medicare prescription drug benefit begins November 15 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).

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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.

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