Stark Recommends Medicare Beneficiaries Become Educated on Details of New Prescription Drug Benefit
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) on Wednesday recommended that Medicare beneficiaries be "well-educated on the intricacies" of the 2003 Medicare law's prescription drug benefit, which begins on Jan. 1, 2006, CQ HealthBeat reports. Stark, speaking on the day that CMS Administrator Mark McClellan visited San Francisco and Oakland to promote the drug benefit, said, "My first words of advice: Take your time. ... Don't rush into anything."
Stark, who did not vote for the law, said, "It's a good thing that the [Bush] administration is working hard to educate America's seniors on this drug benefit because it is very complicated." Stark added, "If the (retiree) coverage [employers] are providing is better than this benefit, you should stay where you are. If you sign up for a new Medicare drug plan and quit your retiree drug coverage, you may lose all of your retiree health benefits and never be able to get them back."
Stark said that beneficiaries who believe they might qualify for low-income assistance should apply for the benefit and suggested that they contact counselors at the state Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program for assistance (CQ HealthBeat, 8/11).