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The new Medicare prescription drug plan
© by Bonnie McKenna
Observer Intern



Are you currently enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or Part B?  Do you feel you are paying too much for your medications?  The new Medicare prescription drug plan that goes into effect, nation wide, on January 1, 2006 will be of interest to you.

The Friendship Center in New Caney held a packed audience this past Tuesday as Congressman Kevin Brady, representing the 8th District of Texas, came to speak on the benefits of the new Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.  “I came all the way form The Woodlands just because I wanted to hear about this program first hand and ask the Congressman a few questions,” said Louise Janczak.

Congressman Brady began by telling the seniors that, “This is the first of many workshops I am holding across the district.  It is a trial workshop to see what information is needed to help you understand the various Medicare prescription drug plans.  I also want to understand your concerns and to listen to what you want.” Those in attendance gave the Congressman a round of applause. “We also have representatives from Medicare and the Social Security here to help you with your questions,” he added.

Enrollment in the new Medicare prescription drug plan begins on November 15, 2005 .  Rodney Clark, from Medicare said, “Any person eligible for Medicare should consider joining a plan even if you currently are not using a lot of prescription drugs.”  He further explained, “If you have a prescription drug plan now that is as good as or better than the Medicare plan you can stick with that plan.  If your current plan cannot meet the Medicare standard and you don’t join by May 15, 2006 you will have to pay more each month to join later.”

The new Medicare plans are different from the current Medicare-approved drug discount cards, which will be phased out by May 15, 2006 .  The new prescription drug plans are designed to provide insurance coverage for prescription drugs.  If you join there will be a monthly premium.  “Currently the monthly premium, for the standard plan, is set at an average of $32 per month with a $250 deductible.  Once you meet the deductible, for the next $2000 Medicare will pay 75 percent of the cost,” said Clark

For those people with a limited income, they may qualify for extra help.  People who qualify will get help with their monthly premiums and/or some of the cost of their prescriptions.  If you think you qualify for extra help, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1231 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or on line at or call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) available 24/7, or go to .

Important dates to remember

On September 15, 2005 the new Medicare prescription drug plans will be announced to the public. Mailings and materials will begin to show up in your mailbox.

October 2005 the Medicare & You 2006 Handbook will be mailed to all Medicare households.

November 15, 2005 will signal the start of the Medicare prescription drug plan enrollment. If you enroll between November 15 and December 31, 2005 your prescription drug plan will be in effect January 1, 2006.

May 15, 2006 is the last day to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan and pay a lower premium.

Congressman Brady emphasized, “You need to find the prescription drug plan that best suits your needs. Enrollment is not automatic. It is important that you study all the information that comes to you in the coming months. If you have any questions call the local Social Security office, the Medicare office or my office. We are all here to help.”

Left to right: Congressman Brady and Commissioner Ed Reinhart explain
the new drug plan to Cornelius (Neal) Hartman