Skip to comments.Medicare Part D sign-ups surpass all expectations
Posted on 05/15/2006 10:38:48 AM PDT by syriacus
When Mike Leavitt first came to Rhode Island last summer to promote the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, the feeling across the country was that the new program was so complex, that millions of seniors would just avoid it. Flanked by local officials at a Warwick senior center, the Health and Human Services secretary tried to assuage everyones concerns in advance.
If youre a senior, dont worry, he said. There will be plenty of people to help you.
It turns out that despite all the confusion, and all the bad publicity at the beginning of the year when some enrollees coverage didnt work, most seniors werent scared off at all. In a conference call on Wednesday, with just six days before the May 15 sign-up deadline, Leavitt announced that Medicare Part D enrollment hadnt just surpassed early predictions of 28 million to 30 million: It had already passed 37 million and was still rising.
With the help of so many, weve been able to make history, Leavitt said, adding that, if all went well, 90 percent of eligible seniors could be enrolled by the deadline.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not release updated state-by-state figures, but as of April 18, 127,020 of Rhode Islands 176,960 Medicare beneficiaries 72 percent had prescription coverage, according to the Medicare Rx Access Network of Rhode Island, an alliance that is promoting the program.
At that point, coverage nationwide was at 70 percent (as of May 8, when Leavitts numbers were tallied, it had surpassed 86 percent), so Brian Cresta, regional administrator for Medicare, said Rhode Islands numbers likely have kept rising as well. Nationally, weve been enrolling about 650,000 people a week, Cresta said.
CMS figures as of April 27 show that about 44,500 Rhode Islanders had enrolled in stand-alone Part D plans, with the biggest share 20.7 percent going to UnitedHealthcare, which has marketed its plans through the AARP and produced a widely distributed Part D guide.
Humana Insurance Co., which offered the lowest-priced plan, for $7.32 a month, seized a 17.8-percent market share, while Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island had 13.5 percent. But Rhode Island is an unusual market, officials say, because Medicare Advantage plans are extra-popular here. As of April 27, 49,400 seniors in the state were in such plans, 70 percent of them with Blue Cross and 29.4 percent of them with United. (The balance of those covered, a CMS spokeswoman said, are getting prescription coverage from other sources.)
Cresta said the biggest help with enrollment has been word-of-mouth from seniors whove found the benefit works well for them. Not that CMS would rely on word-of-mouth alone: 46,000 outreach events have been held nationwide, 1,000 of them last week.
The Medicare Rx Access Network held its own educational and promotional event on Monday at the East Providence Senior Center, and Lt. Gov. Charles J. Fogarty, who is heavily involved in elderly affairs, co-hosted a meeting with legislative leaders at a senior center in Pawtucket on Wednesday, This is a work in progress, Fogarty said in an interview. There are clearly some issues that still need to be worked out. But we believe that a proper use of the program cannot only help keep people healthy, but can also save money direct state dollars.
At least some seniors are already saving money, Mondays event showed. Beverly Gofton, of Warwick, who is diabetic said even after paying her premium, shes saving $95 a month. Last December, I paid $147 for my monthly supply of insulin, she said. In January, I went back with my card, and I only paid a $28 co-pay.
I only wish I had not tried comparing plans on my own, but had gone directly to medicare.gov and entered her prescriptions there to see which plan in our area was best for her. If I had done that last January she would be $1000 richer
This is turning out to be a disaster for the Dem's.....
Not according to the mainstream media. All weekend I heard how there were x number of seniors still not signed up.
And why wouldn't they sign up for welfare for seniors ? Payments courtesy of a taxpayer near you.
We need wide open, pedal to the metal competition. That alone will reduce prices.
right - the AARP is in the GOP's pocket just as long as the GOP provides more handouts to seniors.
Would you give me the exact link you used to compare plans and save money. I am not finding it at the moment. My wife is in the $53 a month Humana plan.
I certainly expected it to be a hit.
When you steal from one person and give the loot to someone else, the person receiving the stolen booty can be expected to sign up for it.
Me, too. This article says that, by last Wednesday, 37 million seniors were enrolled. Leavitt says he expects 90% of eligible seniors to be enrolled by the deadline.
From the bit of news I have heard today, I would have thought that only 10% of eligible seniors had enrolled and 90% were unenrolled.
How can you screw up a screw up?
All wealth transfer schemes are screwed up by definition.
LBJ would be a Republican if he were still alive.
"Welfare" is usually for poor people. This is a generational wealth transfer scheme.
It's government theft, courtesy of GWB and his Republican and Democratic cronies.
"...AARP is making a ton of money on it, so they are increasingly in the GOP pocket."
Not a snowball's chance in hell. They're lib-dem trash, through and through. The GOPers have no place at their table.
There, it's fixed!
I hope not. What would you be in favor of, if anything?
but there has been a delicate dance going on trying to find a way to avoid HillaryCare and complete price controls.
Two groups of socialists/fascists negotiating the sell out of Indivdual liberty and personal responsibility.
Part-D was effective at staving that off,
No it wasn't, it was a stepping stone.
and then to hear Bush himself put it back on the table was disheartening.
Only if you expected a different path.
I believe this program will be a success, despite all the negative commentary from the liberal press. The trouble is that with the liberal machine constantly hammering seniors with the propaganda that George Bush and the Republicans are not their friends, I doubt this will translate into seniors voting Republican. Republicans will need to do a better job of reminding seniors (and the voters in general) of the good that has come from this administration, since voters will not get that information from the liberal press.
Sucess at what?
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