Jun 21

Care Connection options counselors helping seniors faced with benefit cut

Date: June 21, 2017 | Category: News

A Missouri law that will eliminate about 64,000 Medicare recipients from the Missouri Rx prescription assistance program has prompted Care Connection for Aging Service’s options counselors to help a surge in clients who are losing coverage.
Effective July 1, Missouri Rx will no longer provide benefits for those with Medicare Part D or Advantage coverage only. The Missouri Rx Program will be offered only to those who enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid assistance.
“We have received an increased number of referrals as people are receiving written notices, and we are trying to answer the phone calls as promptly as we can,” said Rona McNally, Director of Special Projects for Care Connection.
Statewide, the change affects 64,000 people, who are receiving letters from the state notifying them of the coverage elimination this week. The program is expiring and has not been re-authorized Missouri General Assembly or governor.
Care Connection’s care managers and options counselors have been fielding phone calls from clients seeking alternate help to pay for medications. Care Connection works in partnership with CLAIM, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, to provide free, unbiased insurance options counseling.
Only people who are losing Missouri Rx will be eligible for a special enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans. That enrollment period will be effective for two months after the expiration of coverage. Clients need to save their letters from Missouri Rx about the changes as proof of their special enrollment period eligibility.
Care Connection staff members can:
• Screen beneficiaries for extra help programs.
• Run a personalized computer search to ensure they know about their lowest-costs prescription options with a Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage.
• Make beneficiaries aware of alternative ways to get financial help for medications.
“If a new plan is not needed or the person is already in the best coverage available, we can try to find assistance programs that can help pay for some of the higher cost medications on their list,” Here are some of the patient assistance program websites:
www.rxassist.org – provides information and application links to assistance programs.
www.needymeds.org – provides information and application links to assistance programs.
www.rxoutreach.org — discount purchasing program website.
“If one of these programs does not work, the beneficiary could talk to his or her doctor or pharmacist about alternative, lower-cost medications to treat their conditions,” McNally said. “Also, some community health centers have sliding scale pharmacies with reduced prescription rates based on income. You would need to have at least one visit with one of the health center providers to be eligible for this assistance.”
Local community health centers can be found on the web at https://www.mo-pca.org/find-a-health-center.
Care Connection for Aging Services is an area agency on aging serving 13 West Central Missouri Counties, including Bates, Benton, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Henry, Hickory, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Saline, St. Clair and Vernon. Its mission is to provide resources and services that empower people to create healthy aging experiences.