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Missed Medicare deadline? You can still save money on Rx drugs…

May 16, 2006
Seniors Who Missed Medicare Deadline Still Can Save Money on Prescription Drugs
Consumer Reports free public education site identifies cost-effective medications
(Washington, D.C.) – Seniors who didn’t sign up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit by Monday’s deadline can still lower their drug costs by talking to their doctor or pharmacist about switching to cost-effective medications identified by Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.
The free, public education project from Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, identifies affordable and effective medicines in 13 widely used drug categories, including cholesterol reduction, heart disease and high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, menopause and arthritis pain. The unbiased, independent reports, available at www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org, are based on a review of the available scientific evidence.
“Seniors who missed the deadline and are taking high-priced medications might save thousands by considering more affordable drugs that work just as well as heavily marketed brands,” Shearer said. “We’ve identified affordable, effective drugs to help seniors and others access the medicines they need.”
Consumers Union supports Congressional reform efforts to the Medicare Part D program to make it more affordable and simpler for seniors. The group backs measures to allow CMS to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors – just as the Veterans Administration currently does – as well as offer a simple, consistent CMS-administered drug plan in addition to those offered by private insurance plans.
Those important reforms should come in addition to proposals to extend the enrollment period for Medicare and address the lifetime penalty for those who didn’t sign up by May 15.
CU also has called on the Centers for Medicare Services to make public the quality data it is collecting on the dozens of private insurance plans offering Medicare Part D coverage. By making public information such as the number of grievances and appeals filed, resolution of such grievances and the number of exceptions allowed to drug formularies, beneficiaries can make more informed decisions when the next sign-up period begins on Nov. 15.
“All seniors should have this information so they can have real quality data to compare plans,” Shearer said. “Making the full range of collected information public is particularly important this first year since consumers faced such a wide range of confusing choices.”

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Contact: Susan Herold, 202-462-6262