One of the best comedy shows of the new season is the handling of the Medicare prescription drug "benefit." The feds are sending out millions of "Medicare and You" handbooks that contain misinformation. The handbooks mistakenly say low-income beneficiaries will be able to enroll in any prescription drug plan available in their area without paying premiums. But the reality is that beneficiaries who qualify for the premium exemption only can take advantage of the additional financial assistance if they sign up for a plan with a premium at or below the regional average. About 40% of plans qualify to offer no premium, according to the Associated Press.
A Medicare administrator attributed the error to "inadequate proofreading."
This will only add to criticism of how confusing the new law and the new benefit will be for seniors. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "The administration has created a drug benefit that is so confusing, even the people running Medicare can't get it right." Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he hopes Medicare "isn't serious that seniors can 'go online' to get the correct information," adding, "How will they know it's incorrect in the first place? Misinformation will turn a frustrating decision-making process into a complete waste of time."
(Credits to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Hill, and American HealthLine of the National Journal.)