Since the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit went into effect in 2006, Legal Aid and a team of pro bono attorneys have assisted clients in navigating the complex program. Medicare Part D provides prescription drug benefits for thousands of elderly and disabled District residents. During the annual Part D open enrollment season, pro bono attorneys join Legal Aid (in partnership with Whitman-Walker Health) in helping to ensure that Part D beneficiaries are enrolled in the plan that works best for them, covering all of their prescriptions at an affordable cost.
While many pro bono attorneys work with several different clients over time, some get the opportunity to work with the same clients consistently over many years. Hogan Lovells partner Eliza Andonova has been working with her Medicare Part D client, Thelma Green, since 2014.
Ms. Green’s Medicare Part D “check-up" with Eliza has now become a tradition. During open enrollment season, Eliza and Ms. Green work together to find the Medicare Part D prescription plan that will work best for Ms. Green during the upcoming year. The two review plans that are administered by private insurance companies. Plans can change from year to year with regard to drug coverage and pharmacy network status. What may have worked previously does not necessarily guarantee coverage in following year. In addition, failure to make enrollment changes by the open enrollment deadline can result in unexpected health care expenses in the new year. So Ms. Green and Eliza reconnect each year to make sure Ms. Green is prepared come January and she doesn’t face any catastrophic surprises. Sometimes the process goes smoothly – the Medicare website functions correctly and coverage remains relatively consistent. Other years, challenges arise as plans change, and Ms. Green and Eliza have to work with her physicians and pharmacists to make sure she can continue to access and afford needed medications.