Monday, February 27, 2006

Coast Guard Has Port Co. Intel Gaps

According to The Houston Chronicle, the Coast Guard is concerned about intelligence gaps in the port deal. The Coast Goard was concerned about "a large number of potential vulnerabilities. According to the report, the Coast Guard's concerns were addressed. However, Senator Susan Collins, after a classified briefing the administration gave to her committee, was not convinced. She released an unclassified version of the Coast Guard report.

50Plusnow's Blog

From 50Plusnow's Blog: this blog has many interesting posts relating to health and other issues important to baby boomers (and people even younger!).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Garlo Ward, P.C. » What Do The Medicare Prescription Drug Rules Mean for You?

Garlo Ward, P.C. » What Do The Medicare Prescription Drug Rules Mean for You?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Walgreens CEO on Medicare Part D

Walgreens CEO Comments on Medicare Part D Implementation Before U.S. Senate Committee on Finance (Yahoo! Finance, 2/08/2006)

Medicare - Medicaid - Prescription Drug Plan News

Medicare - Medicaid - Prescription Drug Plan News

Friday, February 03, 2006

Medicare.gov - Information on the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

Medicare.gov - Information on the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

Medicare.gov - Medicare Reform

Medicare.gov - Medicare Reform

Thursday, February 02, 2006

If the poor can’t afford healthcare, let them eat cake at Pandagon

If the poor can’t afford healthcare, let them eat cake at Pandagon

Medications - myDNA

Medications - myDNA

UroMed

UroMed

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Don't wait to get help

From the .: Albany Democrat-Herald (2/1/2006): another hard luck story about a poor soul trapped in the red tape of the Medicare Drug Plan. Ira

Medicare for Dummies

Here's an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that explains in simple terms what to look for with Medicare Part D.

Risperdal: from $5/month to $582 month

A horror story from the Palm Beach Post (Florida), January 19, 2006, makes my hair stand on end. A Medicaid patient, one of 6.4 million transferred to the Medicare Drug Plan, needs the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal to avoid going to a psychiatric crisis center. He paid $5 per month. Now the bill is $582/month ($291, paid twice a month). Nineteen states have declared a public health emergency and will pick up the tab. Incidentally, under the Medicare Drug Plan, a pharmacist does not have to fill a prescription from a customer who cannot afford the copayment. Under Medicaid, the pharmacist was legally obligated to fill the prescription. Where is this going to lead us? Ira

RI Extends Drug Coverage

According to the Providence Business News (February 1, 2006) story: "Gov. Donald L. Carcieri announced Monday plans to extend Rhode Island’s efforts to cover the cost of prescription drugs for senior citizens and adults with disabilities who were recently transferred from the federal Medicaid program to the new federal Medicare Part D prescription drug program." In other words, those dual eligible people who might fall through the cracks because they were transferred to Medicare Part D will be covered by Rhode Island. This is an "executive order" which was due to expire January 31, 2006. He extended the order until the end of February. What will happen after that??? Ira

Getting Help - Toll Free Numbers

CMS (the official US Government site for people with Medicare) has a list of toll free numbers for each state. The site claims that it's "free one-on-one help", under a program called SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program). Hope this helps. Ira

So much confusion for "dual eligibles"

No wonder there's so much confusion. Here's what the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (cms.gov) tells the pharmacist how to handle someone who is eligible for both. Ira

Drug Formulary Guide

Every Medicare-approved drug plan can supply its own formulary - a list of drugs that they cover. Medicare only requires that the formulary include certain classes of drugs, such as a minimum number of antidepressants or antipsychotics. Whether these drugs are right for you or your loved one, who knows? What if the generic brand doesn't work? Here's a drug formulary guide, for more information. Ira

"Off Label" Medications may not be covered

From http://www.thedesk.info/PartD/offlabelMedications.htm An "off label" medication is when the doctor prescribes that drug for a medical use other than the one that received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Off-label prescribing is a commonly used and accepted medical practice. These drugs do have FDA approval – but for a different use. For example, doctors frequently prescribe FDA-approved anticonvulsant medications for persons who do not have seizures, but who need a mood stabilizer. When an anticonvulsant medication is prescribed for use as a mood stabilizer, that is considered an off-label use. A Medicare-approved insurer doesn't have to cover "off label" medications. Something else to consider when choosing a plan. Ira

Guide for "Dual Eligibles" (Medicare and Medicaid)

If you are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you're in a class called dual eligibles. Medicare has some special (doesn't look good for dual eligibles) rules for combining the benefits. Go to: http://www.thedesk.info/PartD/ Here are some "gotchas", from the article: The private Prescription Drug Plans may have limited formularies or may place other restrictions on access to the medications a beneficiary needs.

· Cost sharing likely will be higher (except for individuals who live in Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICFs/MR).

· Unlike Medicaid, there is no requirement to dispense an emergency supply of medications pending an appeal in a case where a plan seeks to deny coverage for a specific drug.

· Unlike Medicaid, pharmacists are permitted to deny medications if beneficiaries are unable to pay the co-pays.

· Current Medicaid rules limit these potentially harmful actions that can disrupt treatments and put the health of dual eligibles at-risk, but the Medicaid rules will not apply to dual eligibles when they transition to Medicare prescription drug coverage.

These are the most vulnerable people in our society, and they're getting the runaround. Ira

Medicare Drug Plan Descends into Chaos

I found this article at consumeraffairs.com. The article describes big problems, especially for the poor on Medicaid. Seems that Congress moved portions of Medicaid to the new Medicare Part D plan. The elderly poor, who had been getting their drugs through Medicaid, now are forced into this new program. Sounds like they're getting shafted. Ira

What questions do you have to answer?

It seems to me that there are a number of questions you have to answer in order to choose the right drug plan. Some, off the top of my head, are: 1) What drugs am I taking? Not all plans cover all drugs. Instead, they cover a "formulary", which is a list of drugs they cover. Your prescription may be for a branded drug, while their formulary only covers the generic version. 2) How healthy do I plan to be? This is a gamble. Maybe you're not taking too many drugs now, and can stay out of the "donut hole" where there's no coverage, but who knows what will happen in the future? 3) What other drug coverage do I have? If you're covered by a retiree health plan, will that continue? This is especially troubling in light of the many companies discontinuing or cutting back on their retiree health plans. What will happen, for example, if GM goes bankrupt? Does the Federal government pick up the GM health insurance tab? I don't think so, and I don't think this would happen. Ira

Is the AARP Drug Plan Worthwhile?

The AARP prescription drug plan ad popped up on my AdSense server, on this blog. The AARP was one of the biggest lobbyists for the Medicare prescription drug plan. What, exactly, does AARP get out of this? They originally were founded as an insurance agency, and they're quite profitable. So what's the deal? Ira

Anyone heard of "Medicare Complete"?

I just ran across this ad (actually, it was displayed using AdSense, from my blog), at: http://www.medicarecomplete.com/2/1.MedicareComplete.aspx The site claims to be from United Healthcare, and that they are a Medicare-authorized insurer. Is this site legit? Are the benefits worth the cost? Ira Krakow

Anyone heard of the Free Medicine Program?

I just chanced upon this Web site (it was displayed via Google AdSense, from my blog), at: http://www.freemedicineprogram.com/ It sounds like a non-profit, public service type of organization. Who runs it? Is this organization legitimate? Ira

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Times a-Wasteing

Remember, if you're a current Medicare participant, you have until May 15, 2006 to sign up for a Medicare drug plan. If you miss the deadline, the next enrollment opportunity is in November, the benefits won't start until January, 2007, and you'll pay a late enrollment fee. Be warned. Ira

Non Government Organizations

Some interesting places for additional information on prescription drug plans: Read this if you're on both Medicare and Medicaid. There are some severe restrictions under the new rules. This looks like a reduction of benefits for the most vulnerable among us (the disabled and the poor). AARP Insurance - Did you know that AARP makes its money from their insurance programs? Their lobbyists pushed hard for the Medicare drug plan. Any conflict of interest? WebMD: Picking the Best Medicare Drug Plan Consumeraffairs.com Ira

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

There's been a lot of press, especially recently, about all the confusion in the Medicare drug plan. Here are some relevant articles: Here's an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that explains in simple terms what to look for with Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D May Be Fatal to Pharmacists (Springfield (MO) Business Journal, 2/8/2006 Rhode Island Extends Prescription Drug Coverage (Providence Business Newsl, 2/1/2006). Governor Carcieri signed an executive order to extend coverage to Medicaid and disabled people until February 28, 2006. Medicare for Dummies (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/27/2006) Navigating Medicare's New Drug Benefit (NPR, 1/27/2006) Medicare Drug Plan Leaves Out Supplies (LA Times, 1/27/2006) NJ Medicare Part D Assistance (South Jersey Post, 1/27/2006) Medicare Plan Bleeds State (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/21/2006) Risperdal from $5/month to $582/month (Palm Beach (FL) Post, 1/16/2006) Medicare's Botched Drug Benefit Rollout (Miami Herald, 1/16/2006) Medicare Meltdown (Philalphia Inquirer, 1/12/2006) Medicare Rx Benefit Drifts into Chaos (consumeraffairs.com, 1/7/2006) Lobbyists Have a Lot Riding on Sign-Ups (The Hill, December 7, 2005) (Remember the millions spent on the "Fred and Ethel" spots?) Ira

Health Care Blogs

These blogs can hopefully bring many important and timely viewpoints to the discussion. The Health Care Blog Ira

Health Care in Other Countries

Is our health care system better or worse than in other countries, particularly in the developed world? Maybe these pages will help us know. Israel Health Care Problems Ira

Medicare Part D Information

Here are some useful links to official (and nonofficial) Medicare pages: Official Social Security Medicare Site Medicare FAQ Links to State Drug Plans (clickable map on medicare.gov site) Medicare Part D Blog (sited in Michigan, Medicare Insurance Center) Medicare Part D Resource Blog Ira

Commercial Insurers

Here are links to commercial insurer's drug plans, so you can compare plans from one place: Aetna Cigna Please comment on the pros and cons of each plan. Ira

Purpose of this blog

The purpose of this blog is to discuss all the different prescription drug plans available and to see which ones are the best. This blog is moderated by Ira Krakow. Ira