Advocates Call for Medicare Enrollment Extensions
Advocates for seniors on Thursday called on Congress to extend the May 15 enrollment deadline for the Medicare drug benefit, the Sacramento Bee reports (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 5/12). Seniors who enroll after the deadline face a penalty equal to a 1% increase in drug plan premiums for each month of delayed enrollment (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 5/12).
Advocates want the deadline to be extended until the end of the year to allow seniors time to decide which plan to choose. However, President Bush has repeatedly said he will not extend the deadline (Sacramento Bee, 5/12).
Jeff Flick, regional administrator for CMS in San Francisco, said most California seniors who have not yet enrolled in the benefit are either healthy and do not believe they need coverage or expect Congress to extend the deadline (Fresno Bee, 5/12).
Health care advocates also are calling for other reforms to the benefit, such as:
- Extending a state law that provides emergency prescription drug coverage for beneficiaries dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare who are having problems obtaining medications through the drug benefit;
- Including funds in the state budget to cover copayments for dual eligibles; and
- Providing universal health coverage in California (Sacramento Bee, 5/12).
KQED's "Forum" on Friday in the first hour of the program is scheduled to include a discussion of the upcoming deadline for enrollment in the Medicare drug benefit. Guests on the program are scheduled to include:
- Diana Gray, program manager of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program;
- David Lipshutz, staff attorney with California Health Advocates; and
- Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) (Iverson, "Forum," KQED, 5/12).
In addition, KQED's "This Week in Northern California" on Friday is scheduled to include a discussion of the enrollment deadline with David Lazarus, business columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle (Davis, "This Week in Northern California," KQED, 5/12). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.