Friday, March 31, 2006

April Could Be Another Banner Month for Medicare Part D

Today is the day special protections expire for Medicare Part D recipients, making April the first month the plan will run on its own since it began at the start of January.

January, as most will remember, didn't go too well. The early troubles are what prompted the creation of the special protections.

Seniors were being automatically enrolled in the program on January 1 and in many cases the plan they were placed into didn't cover the medications they needed. The special protections were designed to ensure all participants would get their prescription drugs despite any problem with plan coverage.

While the intention was the use the past two months to fix the system and get participants into the appropriate plans, some fear short-term fixes will fall apart when the special protections are dropped after today.

And according to an attorney for a nonprofit Medicare advocacy group in California: "The fear is many people are unaware the drugs they are currently taking are not covered by their plan."

Many people have been urging President Bush to extend the special protections, but he has declined to do so. Tomorrow will be the last day the federal government provides any money to cover prescriptions not normally covered by the participant's plan.

It appears if the program falters like it did in January, either the participants will be on their own or states will need to step up and handle the resulting problems alone.

The San Francisco Chronicle has the full story.

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