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Paynesville Press - December 14, 2005

People with disabilities will get prescription drug coverage

If you are a person with disabilities and on Medicare and Medical Assistance, beginning Jan. 1, 2006, most of your prescription drug costs will be covered by Medicare's new prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D). This includes Medical Assistance with a spenddown and Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities.

People with disabilities who are on Medical Assistance and Medicare should carefully review all of the Medicare prescription drug plan choices, know their prescription drug needs, and enroll in a plan that best fits their needs.

If beneficiaries do not enroll in a drug plan by Dec. 31, 2005, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will assign them to a Medicare prescription drug plan.

Even though this plan will cover most prescription costs, it may not be the plan that is best for you. While the assigned plan ensures beneficiaries prescription drug coverage, it may change an individual's existing coverage, and it may not be the plan that covers all of their prescription drug needs. It is important for beneficiaries to know their personal drug needs and enroll in a prescription drug plan that best accommodates their needs.

If beneficiaries feel the plan in which they have been assigned does not meet their needs, they may change their plan at any time.

As Medicare Part D makes its way across the state, it will affect approximately 90,000 Minnesota Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities. Beneficiaries should have already received a large volume of Medicare Part D information including important government notices and marketing materials from various Medicare prescription drug plans.

As beneficiaries review their options, they should bear in mind that there are resources available to help them with the process. Beneficiaries, their family members, and caregivers can receive free impartial assistance from the Minnesota Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433. The Linkage Line is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays.

Beneficiaries can also access information and prescription drug plan choices through the Internet at or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

Before you call, gather the following information for reference: your Medicare card; a list of the prescription medications you currently are taking, including names and dosages; and the name and address of the pharmacy you prefer.

The enrollment period began on Tuesday, Nov. 15. While the new coverage starts on Jan. 1, 2006, seniors have until May 15, 2006, to join a drug plan without penalty.

(This article, the fourth in a series, was prepared by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Council on Aging.)

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