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|Paynesville Press - December 7, 2005|
Dual Medicaid/Medicare recipients have options
If you are currently receiving both Medicaid Medical Assistance and Medicare, beginning Jan. 1., 2006, most of your A-portion of prescription drug costs will be covered by Medicare's new prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D), rather than by medical assistance. |
Even though Medicare will cover a portion of your prescriptions, it may not be under a plan that is right for you. People who have dual coverage should carefully review the available Medicare Part D information, know your prescription drug needs, and choose the plan that best fits your needs.
By now you should have received information regarding Medicare Part D and the different Medicare prescription drug plan options. Although you will receive drug coverage even if you take no action, you may want to review options to ensure you get coverage that best meets your needs.
Medicare Part D is a big change to the Medicare program. In order to receive the new benefit, recipients must be enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan. By now health care recipients should have received information regarding Medicare Part D and the different Medicare prescription drug plan options and enrollment information.
Dual beneficiaries will not be automatically enrolled in the Medicare Part D program; enrollment is voluntary. Recipients may enroll in the prescription drug plan of their choice anytime between Nov. 15, 2005, and May 15, 2006.
If dual recipients do not enroll in a drug plan by Dec. 31, 2005, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will enroll them in a Medicare prescription drug plan, so they do not lose drug coverage.
To ensure all beneficiaries have drug coverage on Jan. 1, 2006, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will assign those people who are currently receiving both Medicare and Medical Assistance and who have not enrolled in a prescription drug plan by Dec. 31, 2005, into a Medicare prescription drug plan. If beneficiaries find the plan in which they were assigned does not meet their needs, they may change their plan at any time.
For instance, Grace has Medicare and Medicaid Medical Assistance. Grace has heard about Medicare Part D and knows that Medicare will now cover her prescriptions. She decides to wait and not choose a Medicare prescription drug plan by Dec. 31, 2005. Grace later finds the plan Medicare enrolled her in doesn't cover all of her prescriptions. She then calls 1-800-MEDICARE to learn about the Medicare prescription drug plan options available to her, and she enrolls in a plan that better fits her needs.
Grace's neighbor, Larry, who also has Medicare and Medicaid Medical Assistance, chooses not to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan by Dec. 31, 2005. To ensure he has drug coverage, Medicare assigns him a prescription drug plan. Larry finds the plan in which he was enrolled fits his needs, so he doesn't have to do anything.
His Medicare prescription drug coverage will begin Jan 1, 2006.
While there is a lot of information regarding the Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Part D, there are people who are waiting to help you. If you have questions about Medicare Part D or about what drug plans are available to you, you may call the Minnesota Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433; call 1-800- MEDICARE, or go online to www.medicare.gov.
Before you call, gather the following information for reference: your Medicare card; a list of the prescription medications you currently are taking, including drug names and dosages; and the name and address of the pharmacy you prefer.
The enrollment period began on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
(This article, the third in a series, was prepared by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Council on Aging.)
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