Medicare drug subsidy not automatic in '07

October 20, 2006

Some low-income elderly and disabled people who received federal money for U.S. Medicare drug coverage must reapply for the assistance in 2007.

Medicare officials said the change affects people who were automatically enrolled in the drug benefit and received the subsidy in 2006, but are no longer eligible for Medicaid or two other government assistance programs, The Washington Post said Friday. About 600,000 people would be affected.

They won't lose their prescription drug benefit, Medicare officials said, but they will be charged a monthly premium beginning in January, the Post said. The enrollment period runs from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, and people affected have three more months to transfer to a plan that doesn't carry a premium, the Post said.

Some seniors advocates said they were concerned that those affected may not understand a letter outlining the change or may have trouble completing the application, the Post said.

Medicare officials said they have taken steps to ensure that seniors affected by the change are contacted by plan administrators, Medicare officials and others to make sure that they apply for the low-income subsidy, the Post said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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