. . . But Enrollment Is Slow

Published Online: Thursday, July 1, 2004

The number of low-income enrollees in the Medicare drug discount card program is falling short, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. Although thousands of disabled and older Americans with low income are enrolled or in the process, Thompson said, "We are somewhat concerned that the low-income seniors, which this card is easily going to be helpful to, have not signed up in the numbers that they have. We are going to be putting all-court pressure on them to sign up."

Yet, this pressure does not include automatically enrolling a larger group of poorer Medicare beneficiaries. Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that automatic enrollment would be a consideration if recruitment falls short of its goal.

As of press time, meanwhile, Thompson noted that all but about a half million of the 2.87 million cards approved by the government so far have been issued to individuals who participate in Medicare managed care plans. They were automatically enrolled in the card offered by their insurer.

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