A central Iowa pharmacist is urging seniors to get signed up for the Medicare prescription drug program today (Monday).
Elderly Americans who delay and sign up after tonight’s midnight deadline will have to pay an extra $2.31 cents per month for the benefit in the coming year, and that penalty is scheduled to go up in future years. John Forbes, a pharmacist in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, says he can tell lots of seniors waited until the last minute. “We’re getting many calls this morning asking ‘Can I get signed up today?’ and we’re trying to accommodate as many people as possible,” Forbes says. “I’m sure pharmacists all around the state and all around the country are getting the same type of calls I’m getting from frantic patients wanting to get signed up.”
Forbes says the problem he’s seen is seniors were inundated with too much information, and couldn’t sort through it all to find which of the 40 prescription drug benefit plans available in Iowa were best for them. Forbes spoke this (Monday) morning at a news conference organized by the Iowa Democratic Party to call on the feds to waive the penalty for late sign-ups. “As a pharmacist, I hope that congress, the president and Senator Grassley will listen to pharmacists, senior citizens around here to extend that time frame and at least for this year not penalize seniors for the confusion that has been caused by this program,” he said, as Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sally Pederson looked on.
Grassley has said it’s important to have a deadline for signing up. According to Grassley, it would be like telling people they have to pay their taxes by April 15th, but it there’s no penalty for late filing, many would choose to delay. Forbes says while Medicare’s new prescription drug benefit needs tweaking, it is saving people money and improving the health of his patients “I do have people who’ve signed up for the program who are very happy with the outcomes they’re getting right now,” Forbes says. Some patients who were rationing their medications are no longer doing so, according to Forbes, and that’s improved their health. But Forbes says it has been confusing.
He says many pharmacies have extra staff on hand today (Monday) to help seniors enroll in the program. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE or log onto www.medicare.gov.
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