April 12, 2006
HUD GENERAL COUNSEL DISCUSSES MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN WITH AREA SENIORS
PROVIDENCE, RI - Today, Keith Gottfried, HUD General Counsel, spoke to a group of seniors at the Westminster
Senior Center in Providence, RI, to encourage them to consider signing up for Medicare Part D plan before the
May 15 deadline.
Medicare beneficiaries who do not join by then must wait until Nov. 15 to sign up for coverage�and that coverage
will not begin until Jan. 1, 2007.
"Medicare Part D is the biggest change in Medicare's history and will give seniors and disabled people in the
program drug coverage for the first time. As of mid-March, more than 7.2 million Americans have voluntarily enrolled
in Part D," explained Gottfried.
HUD is partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services to help educate seniors � many of whom are beneficiaries of HUD services and programs � of this important benefit. HUD has a number of programs aimed at helping low-income seniors afford a decent, safe place to live.
Gottfried eased some apprehension surrounding the new program by explaining:
- Even healthy seniors should consider signing up for Part D now because their drug needs may change.
Waiting to sign up after the May 15 deadline means paying a 1 percent per month penalty for as long as
they participate in Part D.
- Confusion over providers should not prevent anyone from signing up by May 15. Part D enrollees may change providers during the next enrollment phase in November.
- The multitude of choices can seem a little daunting, but a recipient's unique needs can help to narrow the choices. For example, not all providers offer every medication. An enrollee should check the provider's
formulary � the medicines covered � and what it charges for each.
- You may want a family member or friend to help you access the Web site or call the Medicare hotline.
Medicare will ask for your name, address, Social Security number and your prescriptions, with dosages and expenditures.
Those who have not signed up still have time. The federal government's Medicare.gov Web site and phone number, (800) 633-4227, are good places to begin. Health care professionals, pharmacists, government agencies and advocates for elders can offer more personalized help.
"Part D represents a profound change for Medicare recipients, but for millions of Americans it is the prescription to a lifetime of happiness," said Gottfried.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as
well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov. For more information about FHA products, please visit www.fha.gov.