Officials Launch Campaign To Promote Medicare Drug Benefit
State health officials on Thursday launched a campaign aimed at boosting enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2006, the Sacramento Bee reports. Beneficiaries will begin receiving information about the benefit's various private plans in October, and enrollment begin Nov. 15.
Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of Medi-Cal services for the Department of Health Services, said the campaign will focus on beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare about the drug benefit (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 9/23).
The benefit will shift prescription drug coverage for the state's 937,000 dual eligibles from Medi-Cal to Medicare. Dual eligibles who do not enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan will be automatically assigned to a plan by federal officials (California Healthline, 9/6).
Some low-income beneficiaries, including dual eligibles, can receive financial assistance to help pay for premiums and other costs. Beneficiaries who are not dual eligibles can apply for financial assistance. About one-fourth of the 700,000 beneficiaries who are eligible for financial assistance have applied so far.
Jo Ann Barnhart of the Social Security Administration said she is pleased with the response rate, but Rosenstein said, "I'd like to see a better take-up rate" (Sacramento Bee, 9/23).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.