In December 2003 President Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act in an effort to maintain and reform the program for future generations. It is scheduled for implementation in January of 2006, but the rising cost of prescriptions pinching beneficiaries' wallets demanded action now.
So a temporary program was created to address the need.
The Medicare Discount Card program, with 100,000 qualifying seniors and people with disabilities signing up for some form of a discount card a week, is designed to provide discounts on prescription drugs.
The Area 7 Agency was awarded funds to assist Clay County Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the new programs as part of an unprecedented outreach effort launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These funds sponsor hundreds of organizations across the nation to help seniors begin saving on prescription drugs right away.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Administration of Aging chose Area 7 because it is a leading, community-based, non-profit organization which has demonstrated experience in providing assistance to people with Medicare.
With several Medicare-approved discount cards available to choose from it is important to read each company's contract fully to understand the benefit plans and make the best individual choice for the participant.
Certain enrollees may also qualify for as much as $600 to help them pay for prescription drugs. Eligibility for this assistance will be based on a beneficiary's income and whether he or she already has any other prescription drug coverage.
"We are committed to helping Medicare beneficiaries in Clay County understand their choices," Area 7 Agency on Aging and Disabled Communications Coordinator Betty Lindley said. "We want to insure that they are enrolled in the program best suited for their needs."
In an effort to help sort through the confusion regarding the new program, an Area 7 representative will be at the Clay County Senior Citizen Center on Feb. 10, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help those qualified select an appropriate program.
Advance appointments need to be scheduled by calling Area 7 at 1-800-489-1561.
"We will schedule other days for seniors to take advantage of this program as demand warrants," Lindley said.
This service is free and open to anyone who is confused about all the prescription cards to choose from. Participants will need to bring their identification, proof of income, prescription medication records and medical insurance information. These records are used to determine the participants' qualifications for benefits.