If you are confused by the new Medicare Part D program, you are not alone. In talking with seniors across Central New York I know there are many questions about this program, including who is eligible, how exactly it will work and whether it will benefit individuals already taking advantage of EPIC, New York's Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage.
I tell all seniors that the benefits of Medicare Part D should be considered carefully based on your individual need and that, thankfully, there is assistance available as you or your loved ones grapple with the intricacies of the program. You can visit www.medicare.gov, to get more information. You can also call our federal representatives, like Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both have staff members ready to answer questions about the new federal prescription drug program.
It is important to know that you do not have to chose between Medicare Part D and EPIC. Rather, this new benefit can work with EPIC. You should also know that enrollment has already begun and will continue through May 15th of next year. After May 15th, 2006, there will be a late enrollment fee. So, inquire now to find out of this program is worth it for you or your loved ones.
As confusing as this program is, Medicare Part D is just one of the many federal and state programs intended to help seniors -- programs that are often complex and difficult to understand. While all of these programs can help seniors in different ways, we have to make sure seniors have the information and the tools needed to take full advantage of the services.
That is why over the past few months I have visited 25 senior centers in my Senate District, meeting hundreds of seniors and handing out thousands of information packets meant to help older New Yorkers understand all the various government programs and services that exist for their benefit.
I also wanted to let seniors know about a new law we passed this year in New York State that requires the posting of prescription drug prices online, allowing seniors to comparison shop.
The New York State Department of Health is currently compiling this data, which will soon be posted on its website at www.health.state.ny.us. In the meantime, Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s website, www.nyag.org, currently lists some drug prices for comparison shopping.
If you have questions on any senior program, I encourage you to either contact your county’s Office for the Aging, or contact my office at (315) 478-8745, and we will do all we can to answer your concerns. We still have many brochures and information packets to help you and your loved ones understand these valuable, though often confusion, programs.
So whether you are a senior trying to understand Medicare Part D, or your parents are struggling with these and other questions, I want you to know that help is only a phone call away.