Medicare Weekly News #15 for December 27, 2005

Media Relations: Tel: 202-326-1816




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.

If you are one of the millions of seniors or disabled Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan beginning January 1, you can get prescriptions filled before you receive your insurance card. Medicare officials say that as long as you sign up by December 31st, your coverage goes into effect January 1, 2006. The following key tips will ensure that you can fill a prescription when you need to:

  • If you have submitted an application, you will receive a letter as proof of insurance until you get your insurance card. If a letter has not arrived by January 1st, Medicare beneficiaries can call their plan's customer service office and ask for their ID number, as well as numbers and addresses that pharmacies can use for billing.
  • If you have signed up very recently and aren’t sure whether you have coverage yet, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE to confirm.
  • The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced on December 22 that 21 million beneficiaries (seniors, people with disabilities and retirees) will be receiving prescription coverage as of January 1, 2006.

    Enrollment for the new prescription drug benefit goes through May 15. The Medicare Rx Education Network has developed a checklist to assist Medicare beneficiaries assess their current prescription drug situation. The checklist, helps prepare them for the enrollment process, is available at

    Beneficiaries can speak with a Medicare representative directly by dialing 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or they can find a counselor in their area by calling Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116). On-line help and information, including the drug Plan Finder, can be accessed at


    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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