This Fall marks the 10th anniversary of Legal Aid’s Medicare Part D Initiative. And Stefanie Doebler, Of Counsel at Covington & Burling, has been involved since day one. In partnership with Whitman-Walker Health and scores of pro bono attorneys, including Stefanie, Legal Aid helps hundreds of senior and disabled D.C. residents navigate the Medicare prescription drug benefit program each year, saving them money and ensuring continuity in accessing their prescription medications.
During DC Pro Bono Week, we are posting profiles of some of the amazing pro bono attorneys who partner with Legal Aid to make justice real for individuals and families living in poverty in our community. Want to get involved? Contact Jodi Feldman.
Medicare Part D was implemented in 2006 – this was a new prescription drug benefit that involved private insurance plans competing with each other for Medicare beneficiary enrollment. Legal Aid and Hogan Lovells (Hogan and Hartson at the time) joined forces to create a pro bono project where Legal Aid would train volunteer lawyers to assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries with plan selection and enrollment.
A decade later, we have recruited several law firms and volunteer attorneys to participate and collaborate with Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker on trainings and coordination of Medicare Part D clinics throughout the city. And, most importantly, we have helped hundreds and hundreds of D.C. residents ensure that their prescription drug coverage is affordable and uninterrupted.
While dozens of lawyers have volunteered at the Medicare Part D clinics over the years, Stefanie truly stands out because of her long-standing commitment to this project, the quality of her work, and her exceptional client communication skills. Legal Aid recognized Stefanie’s extraordinary pro bono commitment by presenting her with the 2014 Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence.
“Getting their annual ‘Part D checkup’ has become a routine activity for the senior and disabled D.C. residents I help at the clinics run by Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker,” said Stefanie. “It has been so rewarding to be involved with this important program since the beginning, and I look forward to staying involved for many years to come.”
One particular client whom Stefanie has assisted year after year is visually impaired and has mobility issues requiring the use of a scooter. She also has a very low literacy level. Each year, Stefanie works with the client to get an update on her current medical situation to ensure that she is in the best prescription drug plan available.
Quite often, Stefanie has worked right up to December 31 (the last day for an enrollment to be effective January 1) to get her client’s information confirmed and help her client make a plan selection. And, once she has finished this analysis and enrollment is completed, she continues to be available to her client, answering questions and helping to make sure her client is able to get her medications without any difficulty.
“I don’t have big words to describe it, but, from my heart, Stefanie has been a great big help,” said the client. “She is the perfect person to have in your corner.”
Photo credit to Jill James Photography