CMS: Part D deadline will not be extended

April 18, 2006 at 3:21 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- Medicare is legally prohibited from extending the general Part D enrollment deadline past May 15, a CMS administrator said recently.

The 2003 Medicare law establishing the Part D prescription-drug benefit prohibits a general extension of the enrollment deadline beyond May 15 for beneficiaries unless they have exceptional circumstances, said Leslie Norwalk, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Earlier this month CMS announced it will offer ongoing enrollment to about 2 million low-income seniors who qualify for subsidized plans, and some advocacy groups and democratic lawmakers have called for extending the same option to all 43 million Medicare beneficiaries.

But to do that would delay the enrollment of seniors with low drug costs, Norwalk said, resulting in higher costs for the benefit.

Seniors who are uncertain whether they qualify for a subsidy -- which is available to those with incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line -- should enroll before the deadline to avoid having to wait until November, CMS spokesman Peter Ashkenaz said.

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