Earlier, it was discovered that there was incorrect information on the Medicare website.

Peter Ashkenaz of CMS, admitted that the defintion of the penalty formula is incorrect, and does not know when it will be corrected.  On Friday, he decribed the real penalty formula, however he was unalbe to show it on the Medicare website.

However, in February, Medicare posted an incorrect explanation of how the penalty is caluclated.  Now it is the end of April, and Ashkenas does not know when the correct information would be posted.

And, the Chicago Tribune had more infomation about the penalty.

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  •  If you have a low income or are disabled, and consequently receive Medicaid, you might not have to take another step. You may have received a letter telling you that you have prescription coverage through the government program. But make sure you have that paperwork. If you are not sure, call one of the help lines above to clarify your status.
  •  Also, if you have been receiving drug coverage through a former employer or union, or are in a veteran program, you have what’s called “credible coverage.” That means you can stick with that drug coverage. If an employer cuts your benefits in the future, as many are doing, you will be allowed to enroll in Medicare Part D then, without being penalized.
  •  If you are like the majority of middle-class seniors, you don’t have drug coverage that the government considers “credible.” That means you must take action to enroll with a Part D drug-coverage provider by the May 15 deadline.
  •  If a senior misses the date and ends up with mounds of prescriptions later in retirement, she will face a penalty if she later enrolls in the drug plan. Under the rules, every month that passes after May 15 will raise your premium 1 percent.
  •  And you can’t assume a $14 plan will be that price in the future. If it rises to $100, your penalty will be attached to that amount, said Toledo financial planner Chris Cooper, who is urging clients to take the penalties seriously. So if five years from now you become sick and need a drug plan that charges a $100 premium a month, you will pay $160 a month for it because you neglected the earlier sign-up, he said. The higher cost stays with you for life.

Cooper further stated,

“People hate thinking about insurance, and hate paying for it, especially when they don’t think they will use it.  But think about it: When you buy insurance, you buy it because you might need it. Do you go wreck your car so your auto insurance is worth what you pay for it? Do you burn down your house so you get your money out of your homeowner’s insurance?”

As opposed to enrolling in a Medicare D(isaster) plan, some senior citizens have instead elected to purchase their prescriptions from Canada.  Steven Podnos, a doctor and financial planner claims,

“It’s not in the drug companies’ interest to let them keep selling through Canada. It’s a good bet the supply will dry up.”

And, in Wisonsin,The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, members of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans and Wisconsin Citizen Action requested that Rep. Paul Ryan (R) support changes to Medicare D(isaster) that would improve seniors’ access to their rx’s.

Marilyn Nemeth wants Congress to extend the May 15 deadline for enrolling in the Medicare Part D program. That’s why her sign read “No to the May 15 Deadline” when she held it up as Ryan stood up to speak Friday afternoon at Assissi Hall.

In response to the concerns raised, Ryan stated,

“I think it’s wrong to discourage people from signing up for this.  There are going to be problems that need to be fixed.”

However, Ryan emphasizes the inmportance of signing up for a Medicare D(isaster) plan before Congress fixes any of the problems with it. Ryan also claims that the only way Medicare D(isaster) will work is if enough enroll.

Tom Frazier, the executive director of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, disagrees.  He presented Ryan with documents that list the Medicare D(isaster)’s problems:

  •  gaps in coverage,
  •  low income eligibility limits,
  •  and, the high cost of medications.

Frazer also stated

“The problems are so serious, we believe we ought to fix the problems before we sign people up.”

Stephen Schwartz, organizer for Wisconsin Citizen Action

“We are opposed to the way it was passed in the House, and the way it was written by drug companies and insurance companies, and the way it left some seniors out.  It doesn’t need to be scrapped wholesale, but Congress really needs to take a step back. There are some major weaknesses in the program.”

Reports of some of the outcomes Medicare D(isaster)plans that made light of the earlier and ongoing problems w/it were best summed up best by Marilyn Nemeth:

“Mainly, I want to find out what they are telling us.  The stuff that we read really doesn’t jibe with what’s really happening.  This is an important issue and we’ve got to have something done.