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Senior Services To Help Enroll Medicare Beneficiaries Who Qualify

Extra help available

Prescription coverage for people with Medicare started in January, but more than 3 million with limited income and resources did not enroll in a plan.

The federal government recently announced that those who qualify for the Extra Help through the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (also called Medicare Part D) can continue to sign up for a Medicare drug plan without penalty until the end of 2006.

Klickitat County Senior Services, KCSS, part of the national Access to Benefits Coalition, has announced a renewed effort to help seniors find out if they qualify for Medicare's Extra Help.

As part of this effort, people with Medicare will receive free and confidential assistance with applying for Extra Help, as well as assistance with choosing the Medicare prescription drug plan that works best for them.

"People who qualify for the extra help through Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage can get 85 to 100 percent of their costs covered, including premiums -- with no coverage gap -- by Medicare," said Roger Gadway, director of KCSS. "We want to be sure that everyone who qualifies knows about this opportunity and that we find and help to enroll them in the prescription plan that makes sense for them."

KCSS helps seniors find out if they qualify for the Extra Help and enroll in the prescription coverage that makes sense for them. Using sophisticated web-based technology such as BenefitsCheckUpRx (found at www.BenefitsCheckUpRx.org), KCSS plans to provide one-on-one counseling and enrollment assistance to the area's Medicare beneficiaries with limited incomes and resources.

KCSS will also sponsor events in our area to continue educating beneficiaries and others in the community about the Extra Help.

The Access to Benefits Coalition helps seniors and younger people with disabilities get access to the prescription coverage they need, including the Extra Help available from Medicare. The coalition includes more than 100 national members and hundreds more community-based organizations in 44 coalitions in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

In addition to providing Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers with free and confidential hands-on assistance in signing up for this new benefit, KCSS is encouraging the community organizations who serve this population to visit the website www.AccesstoBenefits.org to get involved in the coalition and to learn how to use the powerful decision-support tools.

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