March 23, 2006

Free Seminar Will Help Locals With Medicare Part D Decisions

To enroll or not to enroll? Thatís the question many folks are currently faced with regarding the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. The decision is becoming even more pressing, as the sign-up deadline is May 15th.

Area residents will be getting a little help in making the right choice. First District State Representative Brian Munzlinger and the stateís official health insurance assistance program, CLAIM, will be hosting a public meeting in Memphis to discuss the options for the program.

The seminar will be held at the Scotland County High School in Memphis on Friday, March 31st at 6:30 p.m.

Medicare experts from Primaris, the operating agent for CLAIM, will be on hand to explain the prescription drug program, research plans suitable for each participant and to assist in enrollment.

ďAs the rollout of the historic Medicare Part D prescription drug program continues, many Missourians are left with important questions regarding their eligibility and benefits,Ē Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, stated.

The legislator said he is sponsoring another sign-up assistance seminar to make certain all area residents have the information they need to take advantage of the new program.

ďThis is a great opportunity for anyone with a question to attend and have it answered by someone who knows the details of the program,Ē said Rep. Munzlinger. ďOur goal is to register as many people as we can for the program. At the very least we want to arm our citizens with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.Ē

CLAIM provides free and confidential health insurance counseling to Medicare enrollees. Certified volunteer counselors assist people locally to help them work through and understand Medicare options or changes. Since the program started more than a decade ago, it has helped more than 100,000 Missourians, saving them an estimated $8 million in out-of-pocket expenses.

ďWhile visiting Memphis, we look forward to a chance to answer questions and assist with Medicareís new prescription drug plans,Ē stated CLAIM program manager Carol Beahan. ďParticipants will have the opportunity to enroll with the help of unbiased counselors. We especially hope Medicare enrollees with limited income and resources will stop by and learn how to apply for extra help with Medicare prescription drug coverage.Ē

Participants should bring a list of their current medications, their preferred pharmacy and their Medicare Red, White and Blue card. Experts will provide the top five drug plan choices for each participant to consider and will offer assistance in enrolling in the participantís chosen program.

The initial sign-up for the new Medicare Part D program began November 15, 2005 and will close May 15. A second sign-up period will begin November 15 this year.

Primaris, the Medicare quality improvement organization for Missouri, provides CLAIM services. CLAIM is Missouriís state health insurance assistance program funded through a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Federal Medicare Agency, and the Missouri Foundation for Health. The program is administered through the Missouri Department of Insurance.

For more information about the seminar, contact Rep. Munzlinger at 573-751-7985 or call CLAIMís toll-free helpline at 1-800-390-3330 or visit them on the Web at www.missouriclaim.org.

A similar program is being offered in Schuyler County at the courthouse in Lancaster on March 29th beginning at 10:00 a.m. This presentations is being provided by the Kirksville Social Security Office and Pat Selby, director of Heartland RSVP.

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