2002-05-15 / Seniors

Programs Help Pay Medicare Premium; New, Better Rx Card On Tap

Programs Help Pay Medicare Premium; New, Better Rx Card On Tap

By John Toscano

Many seniors may not be aware that there are programs that cover part of the premium they pay for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits and costs $54 a month for every Medicare member.

On May 29, "Medicare Buy-In Enrollment Day," will take place at 21 senior centers in New York City, four of which are in Queens.

The purpose of this special enrollment day is to enroll eligible seniors in programs that will pay as much as $20 per month of the Medicare premium for individual Medicare members.

That’s a savings of $240 a year for an individual and $480 a year for a couple.

In Queens, the centers where seniors can enroll for this benefit, if they qualify, are the:

*Elmhurst–Jackson Heights Senior Center, 75-01 Broadway, Elmhurst.

*Sunnyside Senior Center, 43-31 39th St., Sunnyside.

*Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP), Creedmoor Complex, 80-45 Winchester Blvd., CBU No. 29, Building 4, Queens Village.

*JSPOA Theodora Jackson Senior Center, 92-47 165th St., Jamaica.

To find the enrollment center nearest your home, call the city Department for the Aging at (212) 442-1000.

The Wednesday, May 29 enrollment day is sponsored by the Department for the Aging (DFTA) and the Medical Assistance Program (MAP) of the Human Resources Administration.

DFTA Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago said, "Many older New Yorkers with modest assets and small incomes have trouble paying for Medicare Part B coverage, deductibles and co-insurance. The Medicare Buy-In Enrollment Day will go a long way in showcasing this benefit available to New York City seniors. I strongly urge seniors to apply."

Under the Medicare Buy-In programs administered by Medicaid, the income eligibility requirements are:

*Under the Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary Levels or SLMB, the maximum monthly income is $906 for individuals and $1,214 for couples.

*Under the Qualifying Individual Group I Levels (QI-I), the maximum monthly income is $1,017 for an individual and $1,364 for a couple.

Under both programs, the monthly Medicare Part B premium of $54 for individuals, which is deducted from a Medicare recipient’s Social Security check each month, will no longer be deducted.

To enroll, applicants should bring a Medicare or Medicaid card, proof of all income, Social Security payments, pension and employment earnings, health insurance policies and proof of United States citizenship or alien status.

New ‘Together Rx’ Card: A new drug discount card sponsored jointly by seven pharmaceutical firms and offering discounts on more than 150 of their products is being offered to Medicare enrollees who have no drug coverage.

Besides meeting the "no drug coverage" requirement, prospective enrollees’ annual incomes can be no more than $28,000 for an individual and no more than $38,000 for a couple.

The seven companies which have joined together to create the card are: Abbott, AstraZeneca, Aventis, Bristol—Meyers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson and Novartis. Two others, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, offer flat-fee copayment cards on prescriptions for their own products.

For more details or to get an application, call (800) 865-7211 or go online to www.togetherx.com.

Clarify Alzheimer’s Benefit: Alzheimer’s sufferers were recently informed that Medicare covers its beneficiaries who have that disease and other dementias for certain therapies that may benefit them.

In issuing the clarification, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instructed contractors who process Medicare claims to determine payments for services on a case-by-case basis. Services included are physical, speech and occupational therapies.

Presently, many contractors automatically deny such claims for anyone diagnosed with dementia. CMS said the contractor’s practice discriminated against Alzheimer’s patients. For more information, call the Alzheimer’s Association at (800) 272-3900 or go online to www.alz.org.

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