Jennifer Mezey, Supervising AttorneyFor the past six years, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Whitman-Walker Health have collaborated to work with pro bono attorneys to counsel hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries about their options during the Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan) Open Season which runs from October 15 through December 7. Last year the two organizations helped over 500 Medicare beneficiaries navigate both the Medicare drug program and the associated benefits that help low-income beneficiaries afford to participate in Part D. These beneficiaries are elderly and/or struggle with physical and mental disabilities, which makes it challenging for them to choose a drug plan and enroll in low-income benefits without assistance.
We are facing several challenges this year that make our work even more important.
- During this period, most Part D plans change their coverage for the upcoming year so even if clients' plans are currently working for them; that could change next year.
- Several plans that many low-income Medicare beneficiaries are enrolling in are changing their names (Medco to Express Scripts) or combining into another plan (Health Net Orange Option 1, CVS Caremark and Community CCRx Basic are combining into Silver Script Basic).
- We know that many low-income Medicare beneficiaries are having problems with their associated benefits of Medicaid, Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) (which helps with drug costs and Part B premiums) and the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) (which helps with drug costs).
Without the work that we do, many beneficiaries would, at best, be confused by all of the above, and, at worst, face major health and economic crises because of unaffordable drug costs. Over the past six years, Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker, along with our pro bono volunteers, have saved countless clients from ending up in these crises.
This year has gotten off to a great start with two trainings hosted by Hogan Lovells and Arnold & Porter. In these two trainings, Legal Aid supervising attorney Jennifer Mezey and Whitman-Walker Health Senior Managing Attorney Erin Loubier trained about 70 volunteers from Arnold & Porter; Hogan Lovells; Steptoe & Johnson; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Wilmer Hale; Covington & Burling; Alston & Bird; Crowell & Moring; Ropes & Gray; Akin Gump; Foley & Lardner; Patton Boggs; and Davis Wright Tremaine. These attorneys will work with Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker staff at 12 walk-in clinics held in their NW and SE offices as well as the NW and SE offices of Bread for the City. (See flyers posted below for clinic dates and times).
Please feel free to distribute these flyers among your clients and any other organizations you work with that serve low-income Medicare beneficiaries. Hopefully, we can help even more beneficiaries this year ensure that they will be able to fill all their prescriptions at affordable prices, thus leading to better health outcomes.
Legal Aid-led Part D Clinics (English/Spanish)
English Flyer for Open Enrollment Clinics Legal Aid 2012
Spanish Flyer for Open Enrollment Clinics Legal Aid 2012
Whitman-Walker-led Part D Clinics (English)
English Flyer for Open Enrollment Clinics WWH 2012