Thursday, March 16, 2006


USA Today notes that seniors and their families will soon have yet another reason to hate Bush and the Republicans:

Medicare drug plan gaps may hit soon

... A special 90-day transition period, set by Medicare to prevent beneficiaries from losing any drug coverage, ends April 1. Private insurance plans can then stop covering drugs they don't usually pay for. Most of the 36 states that stepped in on an emergency basis to help low-income beneficiaries also will stop paying.

State insurance counselors and health care advocates say the result could be a repeat of problems first encountered in January, when the program began. Thousands of beneficiaries were turned away from pharmacies when their records weren't found or their drugs weren't covered.

"Some of these people are going to be in really difficult spots," said Jude Walsh, special assistant to Maine Gov. John Baldacci. "I think they're going to be going without medication again."...

Ah, but don't worry -- the magic of privatization can make this all go smoothly!

Meanwhile, Medicare officials said insurance plans need to educate seniors about what happens when the transition period ends. Some seniors could have to change drugs, file appeals or pay out of pocket.

"We have a short time to be working with the plans to make sure the beneficiaries get the information," said Peter Ashkenaz of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "Some plans are already doing it."

Or maybe not....

But dozens of state health insurance counselors in a nationwide conference call Wednesday said they were unaware of any insurance plans helping to educate seniors....

The private insurers aren't doing good customer service? I'm shocked. Shocked!

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