Access and Medicare Law

Article excerpt

"Passage of the Medicare Modernization Act offers an unprecedented opportunity to assist limited-income Medicare beneficiaries with their prescription drug costs," according to a new study, "Pathways to Success: Meeting the Challenge of Enrolling Medicare Beneficiaries with Limited Incomes," released in June by the Access to Benefits Coalition (ABC)-a national consortium of more than ioo agencies and organizationswhich is managed by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA). (See "Potomac Sources" elsewhere on this page.)

Although the report is hopeful that most of those eligible for the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) can be signed up for the new prescription drug benefit, the authors caution, "Maximizing enrollment will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination between the public and private sectors," among other factors.

Of 14.4 million elders and people with disabilities eligible for benefits, half already qualify for Medicaid, a federaland-state poverty program, and will be automatically enrolled in the new Medicare Part D program. The other half, 7.2 million people, need to go through an often-complicated application process. Those who qualify will receive about $2,100 annually in prescription drug assistance. Full enrollment would cost at least $720 million, well below the amount now allocated for enrollment assistance, but it would save up to $158 billion, according to "Pathways to Success."

ABC's research team studied ioo selected agencies and found wide variations in cost and effectiveness in enrolling low-income beneficiaries so far. …