Thursday, October 06, 2005


As NPR reported this morning and MedPage reports here, the Bushies did a mass mailing to senior citizens about the prescription-drug benefit that contains critical mistakes that could cost poor seniors money.

The administration's response? "Get the correct information youself!"

...The Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS), which runs Medicare, conceded yesterday that it goofed in a handbook just mailed to Medicare beneficiaries. Moreover, the error occurs in a section on low-income seniors -- those who could potentially get the greatest relief from a Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

The information brochure wrongly states that the low-income seniors ... can sign up for any of the PDPs [prescription drug plans] that offer plans in their area at no extra charge.

That information is wrong, said Medicare spokesperson Gary Karr. Low-income seniors can avoid extra charges only if they sign up with plans that charge premiums that are equal to or below the state average....

CMS acknowledged the error but said it is too late to send out a new mailing because the clock is running on Medicare Part D enrollment, which opens on November 15 and continues through May 15, 2006. Seniors who sign up by December 31, 2005 will get coverage beginning on January 1, 2006.

The right information, CMS said, can be found on the Medicare Website, and Medicare said it has informed the PDPs that they must inform low-income seniors about the error.

Hey, it's only ordinary citizens getting screwed -- it's not as if this is an important error to rectify.

By the way, it's not even certain that low-income seniors who go to the Web site will get the correct information -- they haven't always:

But the Medicare Website has also been plagued by errors.

For example, on Sept. 23 -- the day CMS unveiled the list of Medicare-approved national and regional PDPs -- a Medicare announcement to Alabama residents carried this headline: “Medicare Approves Plans to Offer Drug Coverage in Alabama; Many Plans to Offer Premiums Lower Than $2.” That would be a bargain in any state, but in a poor state such as Alabama it would be a real boon -- if it were true. The headline was supposed to tout premiums lower than $20....

No competence, please -- we're Republicans....

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