Easter Seals Iowa is trying to get out the word on the upcoming deadline for signing up for Medicare prescription drug benefits. Nona Bear, a national health care advocate, visited Iowa to talk about the sign up for the prescription drug discount card. She says low-income seniors with no coverage for medicines can sign up before March 31st and still receive a 600-dollar transitional credit. Bear says there are still a lot of Iowans who’re eligible who haven’t taken advantage of the credit. She says the U.S. business roundtable did a survey and estimates there are some 25-thousand seniors in Iowa who’re eligible for the credit. She says the benefit drops by one quarter after the March 31st deadline. Bear says there are also benefits for those who don’t meet the low-income guidelines. She says every person on Medicare who does not get their medication from Medicaid, is eligible to use the discount card. Only the low-income can get the transitional credit, but she says everyone is eligible for the discount card. Bear says it’s important that you look into the discount card and see if it’s something you can use. She says, “The discount card is the appetizer for the main course. The main course is the prescription drug benefit in Medicare, and that will begin next year.” She says this is the education year for the program and it’s important for everyone to learn about it. Bear says this is such a new and different program and that’s probably why so many people haven’t signed up yet. She says she thinks many people thought the discount card was only for low-income people. She says many people who were low-income but not on Medicaid may’ve thought the card couldn’t help them or could hurt other programs. Bear says, “it does not impact any other programs at all. It does not require that you give up anything else.” Bear says the program can provide important benefits, but you have to look into them and sign up to take advantage.
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