Wasserman Schultz, Officials Help Seniors Decipher Medicare Rx Plans
Wasserman Schultz holds second Town Hall to help seniors' with new Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
December 20, 2005
Hallandale Beach -Today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz hosted a Town Hall meeting to help provide answers for puzzled South Florida seniors about their options under the new Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. More than 800,000 South Florida seniors are affected by Medicare and many are overwhelmed by having to decipher which of the 103 plans available in Florida is the right one to fit their individual needs. The seemingly daunting task of selecting a plan must be completed within the next five months, as May 15, 2006 is the deadline for enrollment. After that date, a significant late enrollment penalty will be assessed in addition to the cost of premiums.
"Prescription drug costs remain a significant burden to our seniors here in South Florida," said Wasserman Schultz. "They deserve to have a reliable benefit plan; one that can be communicated in terms that they can understand. Had I been in Congress when this legislation was proposed, I would never have supported it. No senior in America should have to worry about being priced out of their health and well-being."
Although Medicare's Web site (www.medicare.gov) includes tools to help seniors choose a plan and Florida officials have launched a Web site (www.myfloridarx.com) to help consumers compare prescription drug prices, these do-it-yourself Internet resources have proven to be largely ineffective. Many seniors, however, are not Web savvy enough to navigate these sites effectively and alternatives, such as the Medicare and SHINE hotlines, can often take up to five days to respond to callers in need of assistance.
Wasserman Schultz's office received numerous inquiries from seniors still confused and in need of further assistance since she held her first Town Hall meeting, when enrollment for the new program began more than a month ago. In response, Wasserman Schultz invited Marisa Duarte from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Edith Gooden-Thompson, Broward coordinator of SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) and Ginny Jordan from the Social Security Administration, to join her and meet directly with constituents.
"Unfortunately, we have to deal with the program that is currently in place, but there has got to be a better way," Wasserman Schultz said. "The federal government must provide a stable prescription drug benefit that does not allow drug companies across the country to increase costs and limit discounts at will. Medicare should have the power to negotiate with drug companies in the best interests of our seniors. We must work together to make this program meet our seniors' prescription drug needs."