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March 16, 2007

Seniors Commend Kagen Health Bill To Protect Seniors In Medicare Part D

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. is setting a new direction and making a positive change in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program with legislation to repeal the late fee it imposes on senior citizens.

Congressman Kagen was joined by senior citizens and senior advocates supporting the legislation he authored to repeal the late fees that punish seniors who sign up late for the complicated Part D program. Kagen introduced the legislation with fellow Congressman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania this week.

“The Medicare Part D program is overly complicated and confusing. It is unfair to punish seniors for not understanding what the government cannot clearly explain,” Kagen said. “This is the first step in creating an open and transparent marketplace that will deliver affordable healthcare for our seniors and everyone.”

Ruth Feldhaus of Green Bay, a geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Eldercare Consultant said: “There are all kinds of reasons why elderly people should not be penalized if they don’t sign up. Working with elderly people, you need to make things as simple as possible.”

When individuals become eligible for Medicare they are also eligible for the Part D prescription drug program. Currently, seniors who do not enroll in Medicare Part D during the initial enrollment period are subject to a late enrollment penalty in the form of higher monthly premiums.

Many seniors find it difficult and confusing to sort through the competing plans offered under Part D. In fact, even the parents of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt had a hard time. They were forced to change Medicare plans after learning that the one they chose imperiled their retiree medical coverage, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports.

Unlike the current Medicare Part D legislation, the Kagen–Altmire bill is simple and straightforward: it repeals the Medicare Part D Late Enrollment Penalty. Future Medicare enrollees who miss their enrollment date will not be penalized.

Currently, the late fee is approximately 1% of the average monthly premium multiplied by the number of months an individual delays enrolling.

Curtis Ellis
202 225-5665 (office)


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