Medicare Weekly News for October 3, 2005

Media Relations: Tel: 202-326-1816


“Make a Checklist”
People with Medicare Encouraged to Write Down Prescriptions

Seniors advocates are urging Medicare beneficiaries to write down their prescriptions. A checklist of medications will help when reviewing the various Medicare-approved prescription drug plans, which began their marketing campaigns on Saturday. Enrollment begins November 15.

The checklist should include:

1. The name of each drug, precisely as it appears on the prescription bottle
2. Dosage (e.g. 75 mg)
3. How frequently the medicine is taken (e.g., daily, twice daily)
4. Cost

An option is to put all medications in a bag, and to simply have that bag at hand when attending an enrollment event.

Seniors are also encouraged to write down what pharmacies are convenient — since different plans will have different pharmacy networks — and to write down if they have currently have prescription coverage, since they will want to compare what they have with what Medicare is offering.

Over the next few weeks, beneficiaries will be receiving information in the mail about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit from both Medicare-approved private plans and from the Medicare agency. This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is sending every beneficiary in the country a Medicare and You guide, which includes information about Medicare’s new prescription drug benefit.

Beneficiaries are urged to collect all the Medicare drug benefit-related mail they receive in one place so that it is centralized and readily available when they review the information. That will also make it easier for children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors to help Medicare beneficiaries sort through the material. Helping with putting together the checklist (or gathering prescription drugs in a bag) is also part of the all-important preparation that is key to making the sign-up process go smoothly.

Representatives are available to answer questions about Medicare’s drug coverage at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633- 4227) and at local state health insurance program offices, which can be reached through the Eldercare Locator (1- 800-677-1116).

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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