Floridians Slow to Sign Up for Medicare Drug Discount Card

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Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs has been holding dozens of workshops all over the state, trying to clear up some of the confusion about the new Medicare discount drug card.

Ruth Dillard actually left work to attend in the hopes of getting a better handle on which of the 37 cards available in the state would be right for her elderly mother.

She was excited to learn about the $600 worth of free drugs available to people who meet certain income limits.

“As far as the low-income and transition programs, that was really important for me to hear, and I hadn’t even known that was an option that was out there for her,” she says.

But even with all the outreach efforts, the information about the drug discount card isn’t getting out to all the people who are eligible, and that’s especially true of low-income residents.

The federal government estimates 600,000 disabled and elderly Floridians are eligible for the $600 annual drug credit, but the feds have discovered those people often don’t use the internet, read the papers or watch the news, and seem to distrust government programs.

Dr. Denise Stanley with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it’s been a big disappointment.

“We don’t want it to be confusing. We want them to understand that this is something that’s going to benefit them, that this is money for them that they would not have had.”

Dr. Stanley hopes as more people come to realize there aren’t any strings attached, they’ll embrace a program that could help them afford potentially life-saving prescriptions.

For more information on the Medicare drug discount card, you can log on to www.medicare.gov or call toll free 1-800-MEDICARE.

The agency now has 3,000 people answering phones to cut down on wait times.

You can also contact the department of elder affairs at 1-800-96-ELDER to ask for a “Shine Volunteer” to help you choose a card.