Ellsworth Reminds Seniors About Medicare Enrollment Period
Rep. Brad Ellsworth is reminding 8th District seniors and their families to take advantage of the upcoming Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period beginning November 15th. The annual Open Enrollment period allows seniors to sign-up for a drug plan or make changes to their current coverage.
Seniors can enroll by contacting their chosen plan directly or contacting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or by visiting: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/openenrollment.asp. The Open Enrollment period begins on November 15th and continues through December 31st of this year.
"I know many seniors have questions about choosing the right Medicare prescription drug plan, and I want to help," said Ellsworth. "My office stands ready to assist 8th District seniors by providing the information and resources they need to help them make the best decision about their prescription drug coverage."
Seniors who need assistance picking a plan should contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). SHIP is a non-profit organization that provides free, unbiased information on health insurance options to seniors and pre-retirees. Seniors can be connected to a counselor in their county by dialing (800) 452-4800.
Ellsworth is also working to make improvements to the Part D program and save seniors money in these tough economic times. Last week, he supported the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which closes the so-called donut hole, a gap in Part D prescription drug coverage that forces many seniors to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medications. According to CMS, about 10,000 seniors in the 8th District fell into the donut hole last year. And a report by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation found that of the estimated 3.4 million Americans who were affected by the donut hole in 2007, 15% stopped taking their prescription drugs as a result.
"Seniors who are battling chronic diseases face a number of challenges; accessing potentially life-saving medications shouldn't be one of them," said Ellsworth. "Unfortunately, current policies say only those who can afford to pay deserve to be treated. I think our seniors deserve better, and this bill took some important steps to ensure all of America's seniors have access to quality, affordable health care."