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Seniors can log concerns, compliments about new Medicare Rx benefit at CU site

Monday, Oct. 31, 2005
Susan Herold, Bill Vaughan, 202-462-6262

Seniors Can Log Concerns, Compliments About New Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit at Consumers Union Web site
ConsumersUnion.org provides advice, tips and complaint form
to track troubles with Medicare drug plans

(Washington, D.C.) – As Medicare prescription drug plans launch intensive marketing to the nation’s seniors, Consumers Union is urging Medicare recipients to share their experiences in signing up for drug plans – from unwanted telemarketing to misleading information – to help track problems, abuses or successes in the program.
The Web site, www.consumersunion.org/issues/medicaredrugs, also contains critical information Medicare recipients should know about the benefit, as well as key questions they should ask before selecting a plan. The site also gives tips on avoiding fraud and other resources for consumers to tackle the challenge of selecting a Medicare drug plan. People can begin signing up for plans Nov. 15; the benefit begins Jan. 1.
Consumers Union urges recipients to ask questions ranging from “How much will my premiums be?” to “How do I evaluate if a plan will cover the drugs I take?”
“These are the kind of questions that consumers should be asking and demanding answers to,” said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
“The public needs to insist that plans provide information on whether they will cover the safest and most effective drugs, and whether they will drop drugs or raise co-pays and prices during the course of the year,” Vaughan added.
Consumers Union also urged consumers to sign up for the federal Do Not Call Registry to avoid telemarketing from plans, and warned against scams and frauds in the start-up of the new program.
“No consumer should give out personal financial information, Social Security numbers, or give cash to anyone claiming to be selling membership in the new drug benefit. There were scam artists abusing the Medicare drug discount card in the spring of 2004, so beware of these crooks this fall,” Vaughan said.
Consumers Union will compile the information from consumers to track trends or problems with the benefit. The site, www.consumersunion.org/issues/medicaredrugs, will be updated with the latest information about the Medicare drug benefit.