Medicare Weekly News 19 for February 17, 2006

Media Relations: Tel: 202-326-1816

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.

New Medicare Rx Guide Helps People with Chronic Conditions

February 17, 2006 – A free, step-by-step guide that helps Medicare beneficiaries with chronic or complex medical conditions find a Medicare prescription drug plan is now available. The online guide is the brainchild of Medicare Access for Patients-Rx, (MAPRx), a coalition formed by patient advocate, family caregiver and health professional organizations. RxCompare™ features worksheets that help beneficiaries find plans that best cover all their drugs, and it makes it easier for them to compile and compare details about cost.

Some two-thirds of Medicare’s 42 million beneficiaries have at least two or more chronic conditions, according to statistics put out by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Among beneficiaries likely to suffer from chronic and/or complex medical conditions are those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These “dual-eligible” individuals were auto-enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans on January 1. RxCompare™ can also be used by these beneficiaries to determine if the plan to which they were assigned is appropriate or if other plans better meet their health needs and budget.

RxCompare™ works in tandem with Medicare’s on-line Drug Plan Finder and can be used in conjunction with calling Medicare customer service representatives at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

The guide is available in PDF format for downloading at http://www.maprx.info/ .

A recent study by the National Health Council found that Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions can save, on average, between $400 and $1,774 annually under the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. RxCompare™ helps these beneficiaries identify prescription drug plans that bring maximum savings. Open enrollment for the benefit continues through May 15.

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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