2005-11-18 / Community

Meeks Hosts Medicare Drug Seminar

Gregory W. Meeks recently hosted a Town Hall Meeting on the new Medicare drug prescription program that featured a detailed presentation by Kelli Singleton from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Other presenters included Chavon Wiggins of Medicare Today, David Wolff Oxford-Medicare Advantage, and Joan Serrano-Laufer of the American Counsel of Social Workers. 

Serrano-Laufer is also director of the Queensboro Council for Social Welfare.

“I have two goals today,” Congressman Meeks said. “First, is to help

constituents understand the concept of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program. Second, to help them make a decision as to whether and when to join a plan,” said Meeks. Over 150 constituents attended the meeting, which was held at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans. 

Congressman Meeks gave a brief review of the Medicare Prescription Modernization Act, which Congress enacted in December of 2003.  He noted that the act established a

voluntary drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries and created a new Medicare Part D. This program gives the elderly and disabled people already on Medicare access to drug prescription coverage. The program takes effect on January 1, 2006. Anyone in the Medicare Part A or Part B can enroll in the new Part D drug benefit plan through private insurance companies beginning November 15, 2005.  The enrollment period ends on May 15, 2006.

Kelli Singleton, a Queens resident and representative for the Center for

Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), discussed how the program would affect current and future retirees. She detailed the issues that potential beneficiaries should consider, including costs, coverage, eligibility, and benefits.  Singleton also provided a 24-hour information number and a website address that constituents could access for additional information.

While not endorsing or advocating any particular plan, Congressman Meeks asked David Wolff to talk about the Oxford plan.  This way, he said, constituents could begin to compare the benefits and coverage package that various private insurers were offering.

Audience members had a great many questions and concerns.  Most focused on whether current benefits could be lost by enrolling in the new benefit. 

All three panelists emphasized that seniors currently enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid should not rush to make a decision about enrolling, but instead take the time to carefully review their situation, study which options make the most sense for their unique circumstances, and then make an informed choice.

Congressman Meeks said the town hall meeting convinced him of the need for a “Sixth Congressional Medicare Prescription Drug Program Road Show.” We need the panelists and other Medicare experts and representatives of private insurers to join with us in traveling around the district to inform as many residents as we possibly can about their choices. Senior centers, religious institution interested in hosting such an event should contact the office of Congressman Meeks at (718) 949-5600.

Congressman Gregory Meeks speaks with senior citizens after the town hall meeting.

                                                          

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