In 2003, Congress modernized Medicare to alleviate the financial pain felt by many seniors who could not afford their prescription drugs. Last year was the first time America's seniors were able to access a new prescription drug program, known as Medicare Part D.
The prescription drug coverage was the fulfillment of Congress' pledge to enable seniors to get the medications they need at affordable prices. Before the establishment of the Part D program, many times our seniors were forced to choose between buying groceries or buying life-saving medications. Statistics show that the Part D program is a success, over 24 million seniors have enrolled. The average national monthly premium projected in 2008 is $25, which is about 40 percent lower than initial estimates. Most importantly, the average Part D enrollee is saving $1,200 per year on prescription drugs. Also, due to the competition among private companies within the plan, the overall cost of Part D is much less than anticipated.
The Part D program provides flexibility for seniors and current beneficiaries may make changes to their current plan during "open season," which begins on November 15th and continues until December 31st.
When seniors first began to enroll in this program there was plenty of confusion about how to sign up for the program and how it worked. Many of you contacted my office asking questions. To assist you, we held Medicare Part D seminars in 17 cities across rural Arizona and over 1,000 attendees enrolled in this new program.
I will again be sponsoring Medicare Part D "open season" workshops where Medicare experts from my staff and the Medicare Access Network of Arizona can assist you in enrolling or changing your current Part D coverage.
Medicare Part D is open to all seniors currently enrolled in Medicare. All you need to do is attend a workshop in your area, and remember to bring your Medicare card along with a current list of the medications you are taking, including the dose and frequency.
At the workshop you can obtain personalized information about your options and find out which plan will best serve your needs. You can sign up for coverage on the spot or take home our information and discuss it with your family. Once you find out the best plan for you, just call my office and we will help you through the sign up process.
I encourage all seniors with questions about Part D coverage, or those who are unsure how to sign up, to attend a workshop. If you have any other issues such as a problem with your Social Security or Veterans' benefits, my staff will be on hand to help with these issues as well.