WFMZ-TV 69 News

New Jersey Group Seeks Medicare Extension

WFMZ-TV 69 News (LINK TO VIDEO CLIP) — Tuesday, May 9, 2006

By Mike Lowe, 69 News

Seniors across the country say they're confused by the prescription drug benefit program known as "Part D" of Medicare. Now a watchdog group in New Jersey has released a study saying it's not working. They say when it comes to helping low-income seniors , "Part D" is getting an "F." WFMZ's Mike Lowe has more.

In New Jersey, senior citizens are signing petitions, asking for more time to understand the new prescription drug benefit program.

(14:06) "It's frustrating, especially when you're sick and you need the pills."

(11:45) "I think people need an extension because too many people are confused – and they're frightened."

Many here say the May 15 deadline to enroll is too early.

(16:36) "It doesn't give people enough time to go and evaluate all this stuff." The watchdog group New Jersey Citizen Action is helping them sift through the information. They've released a report showing that – so far – "Part D" has been less than successful.

The report shows that the 6 million poorest Medicare recipients are worse off now than before the program started.

(25:08 – STAND UP) "The report also shows that 4 out of every 5 low income seniors is without drug coverage."

(17:49) "These are the folks who need the most help – and were told they would receive the most benefit."

The group is calling for major changes to the plan.

One involves closing the so-called "donut hole gap" in coverage.

As it stands now, "Part D" covers drug costs of up to $2,250 – essentially the first bite of the donut, but once you reach the hole (19:45) "The insurance coverage drops out."

Individuals pay for the next 3-thousand dollars of drug coverage – out of their own pockets.

Then insurance kicks in again.

(20:14) "Having to shell out $3000 in drug costs this year is something that's unreasonable. It's a burden that should not be put on our seniors."

Even with all the confusion, the Bush administration has signaled that it won't budge on the deadline.

That is now less than a week away.

In North Plainfield, New Jersey, Mike Lowe 69 News.

Copyright 2006 Maranatha Broadcasting Company, Inc.

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