Medicare Today Launches “Seniors Speak Out” Online Resource Hub, Providing Tools for Healthcare Decision-Making

Visit SeniorsSpeakOut.org for Information on Medicare Part D

To help ensure that seniors, caregivers and advocates get reliable information and engage with one another on issues and best practices critical to older Americans, Medicare Today, an initiative of the Healthcare Leadership Council, has launched the “Seniors Speak Out” interactive website.

We understand that navigating and evaluating the health care landscape can be a challenge, which is why we’re making this online resource hub available ahead of the October 15th start of Medicare Part D Open Enrollment.

The new website will have tools to help seniors successfully evaluate Part D coverage options and enroll in the plan that best suits their needs, in addition to other health care and lifestyle tips and resources. The website also hosts advocacy tools to empower beneficiaries to make their voice heard to policy makers.

Medicare Resources and State Specific Information
The Medicare section of the site features facts and tips to assist beneficiaries with the open enrollment process, provides resources for seniors and caregivers, and details state-specific information on plans. Specifically, resources include:

Healthy Living Insights
Seniors can visit the Healthy Living section for tips and highlights on aging and preventative care.

Part D Advocacy Tools
We also encourage visitors to proactively protect Medicare Part D by reaching out to members of Congress and engaging the @SeniorsSpeakOut Twitter handle to join the online conversation. Current advocacy tools include:

Latest News
The recent news section is a one-stop-shop of what you need to know about senior health and Medicare.

Blog
The blog will not only share best practices, videos and other helpful materials, it will also feature Medicare beneficiary and senior advocate Nona Bear, who will share her experience and expertise surrounding Medicare and encourages you to do the same.

The website is intended to serve as an interactive online community to assist and connect seniors, so please share your experiences, give advice and let us know what additional features would be helpful to you.

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New Survey Shows Nearly Nine of Ten Seniors Satisfied With Their Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

75 Percent of Seniors Concerned About Reducing the Number of Part D Plan Choices Available to Them

WASHINGTON – A new nationwide survey of 65-and-older Americans confirmed overwhelming support of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, with 86 percent saying they are satisfied with their plans and similar numbers noting their premiums and co-pays are affordable.

The new survey also quantifies the importance of plan choice to seniors. 75 percent of respondents say it is important to them to have a variety of plans from which to choose, and 74 percent said they would be concerned about any moves to limit those choices.

Medicare Today chairperson Mary R. Grealy said the new survey underscores the importance of prudence in making changes to Medicare Part D that could undermine the program’s success. 

“The Part D program has transformed the lives of millions of seniors. It’s widely seen as affordable, easy to use and a good value,” she said. “Policymakers should act with care before altering the structure that has made Medicare Part D one of the federal government’s most successful programs, one that advances the health of beneficiaries and is an ally to the pocketbooks of both seniors and taxpayers.”

Other key findings in the survey include:

  • 86 percent of seniors say their Part D co-pays are affordable, with 85 percent saying the same of their monthly premiums.
  • Two in three seniors (67 percent) say without Part D they would be unable to fill all of the prescriptions their doctors prescribe.
  • 68 percent say they are better off today than they were before they had Part D coverage and 71 percent have greater peace of mind because of their drug coverage.
  • Only 27 percent are aware of Medicare’s current ratings system for assessing plan quality, and only 38 percent are aware there are Medicare counselors in their state they can contact for assistance.

“The survey reveals that there is still work to be done in educating seniors on the tools and resources available to help them compare or switch plans if necessary,” said Mark David Richards, Senior Vice President of KRC Research. “It may be reassuring for seniors to learn that 81 percent of beneficiaries who have shopped around and decided to change plans said it wasn’t difficult to switch.”

These results come just a few months after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed regulatory changes to Medicare Part D that generated significant controversy, including a move to limit the number of Part D plans available. Following opposition from a wide variety of health care stakeholders concerned about availability and affordability of Part D coverage, CMS later announced it would not pursue action on several controversial provisions of the proposed rule at this time.

Medicare Today and KRC Research have conducted this survey annually since 2006. Full survey results can be found at www.medicaretoday.org.

***

About the Survey
KRC Research conducted a nationally representative (random-digit dial) landline telephone survey of 1,619 seniors 65 years and older with Medicare coverage, of which 601 have a Medicare prescription drug plan. The survey was conducted from June 25 to July 6, 2014. The margin of error for a sample size of 601 is plus or minus four percentage points.

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Medicare Today Praises CMS for Responding to Patient Needs, Concerns on Part D Rule

CMS Decision to Not Move Forward with Key Provisions of Proposed Regulations Preserves Integrity, Efficacy of Medicare Prescription Drug Program

WASHINGTON – The Medicare Today coalition today commended the leadership of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its decision to refrain from moving forward with certain provisions of its proposed regulatory changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.  CMS, said Healthcare Leadership Council president and Medicare Today co-chair Mary R. Grealy, demonstrated its responsiveness to public concerns about the impact the proposed regulations would have on beneficiaries.

“We applaud CMS Administrator Tavenner for the agency’s sound judgment on this issue,” said Ms. Grealy.  “It became clear in recent weeks that there were deep concerns among seniors, patient organizations and healthcare providers about the effect these changes would have on one of the federal government’s most successful programs.  The health and lives of millions of Medicare beneficiaries have been strengthened by Part D’s accessible, affordable drug coverage, and the qualities that have made this program so effective need to be preserved.”

 “We agree with Administrator Tavenner that there needs to be a continuing dialogue among stakeholders to make certain we’re taking the right steps to protect the health of current and future Medicare beneficiaries.  We look forward to working with her and her leadership team at CMS to continue improving a program that is already fulfilling its public mission extraordinarily well,” Ms. Grealy said.

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Proposed New Regulations Affecting Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage Raise Concerns for Beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued proposed regulations that would bring about significant changes to Medicare Advantage and to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.  Organizations representing patients and healthcare providers are raising serious concerns about the proposed rules and how they will affect programs that have been extremely effective in strengthening patient health and containing taxpayer and beneficiary costs.These groups recommend strongly that the proposed regulations be rescinded and that they are prepared to work with CMS to develop more productive approaches that build on the strengths of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D without harming beneficiaries.

http://www.medicaretoday.org/MT2014/full%20ad.gifThe Healthcare Leadership Council developed a group sign-on letter with 371 signatories asking CMS to withdraw the Part C-D Proposed Rule.  The letter underscores that the rule would adversely affect healthcare costs and access for beneficiaries and undermine the stability of the Part D program. The letter can be found here. (The letter is featured in a February 26 advertisement in Politico, seen here.)

Concerned organizations are also communicating with Congress to make lawmakers aware of the ramifications of the proposed rule.  A Facebook page, called Seniors Speak Out, has been established that will enable Medicare beneficiaries to communicate with their Senators and Representatives on the issue.  The page can be found here.

Click here for a directory of useful resources regarding the proposed changes to Medicare Part D.

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How to Enroll

Medicare "Part D" is a collection of prescription drug coverage plans. Finding the Medicare plan that best matches your needs and enrolling is simple.

To enroll call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to speak with a Medicare counselor. When you call, make sure you have on hand:

  • A list of the prescription drugs you take, including the dosage and frequency
  • Your Medicare ID card
  • The name and phone number of your preferred pharmacy

The Social Security Administration can also provide assistance for those who qualify for additional help. Call 1-800-772-1213 to check your status. Learn More »


Medicare Drug Benefit Stories

My mother has worked hard her entire life and it is good to see that she won’t have to worry about the high cost of medications as she gets older. -Kathy, Juneau, AK
I am very happy to have some medical coverage since I am on a fixed income. -Peggy, Blanchard, OK

View all stories »


Important Dates

  • Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D begins October 15, 2015.  Learn more here
  • March 1, 2014
    Mandatory government spending reductions under “sequestration” take effect.  For more information, click here
  • October 15, 2014
    Medicare open enrollment period begins
  • December 7, 2014
  • Medicare open enrollment period ends
  • January 1, 2015
    Changes made during open enrollment period take effect

View all »


News | Medicare Tomorrow

Downloads materials:
Medicare Part D Open Enrollment Toolkit
Medicare Part D Rebate toolkit here
Medicare Part D Non-Interference Toolkit

  • October 30, 2014 - Organizations to Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: Medicare and the Elections| Details
  • August 6, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit Annual Satisfaction Survey Results | Audio
  • June 5, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: CMS Releases Final Part D Rule | Details
  • April 24, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: CMS Efforts to Alter Part D | Audio
  • February 7, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Event Audio
  • November 5, 2013 - Third Way releases paper, “How Medicare Part D Beat The Odds – And Why Policymakers Should Care” .
  • October 23, 2013 - National Tele-Town Hall What's the Latest on Medicare? | Listen to event Audio.
  • September 19, 2013 - National Tele-Town Hall Medicare Part D Rx Benefit Annual Satisfaction Survey | Listen to event Audio.
  • July 25, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
  • June 26, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
  • May 23, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
  • April 25, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
  • April 25, 2013 - Over 500 Organizations Representing Patients, Healthcare Providers, Employers Urge Congress to Eliminate IPAB - letter to Capitol Hill Says Independent Payment Advisory Board would “severely limit Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care”
  • March 21, 2013 -  CMS Medicare chief Jonathan Blum touted improved drug adherence as a Medicare cost saver in an Inside Health article.
  • March 21, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
  • March 20, 2013 - More Than 400 Innovative Medicines in Development For Top Chronic Diseases Affecting Older Americans-Two Reports Show Progress in Treatment Options for Chronic Disease. report | overview

Contact

Medicare
Call: 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
Visit: Medicare.gov

Medicare Today
Visit: MedicareToday@hlc.org

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About Medicare Today

HLC launched the Medicare Today program in November 2004 to reach out to Medicare beneficiaries who needed reliable information on how to get the greatest value from their Medicare benefits. Medicare Today administers the partnership of over 400 national and local organizations including American Academy of Family Physicians, and National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

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