PORTLAND, Ore. – Kaiser Permanente announced today that it will participate in the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program for 2006, and that all eight of its regions were awarded contracts by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente cares for approximately 880,000 Medicare members, and is the largest health plan serving the Medicare program. Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest Region cares for about 55,000 Medicare members.
Kaiser Permanente’s participation in the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program demonstrates its ongoing commitment to care for our nation’s seniors and people with disabilities, as the federal program undergoes its most far-reaching changes since its inception in 1965. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into law in 2003, providing outpatient prescription drug coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2006.
“We are delighted to participate in this important enhancement to the Medicare program,” says Gary Morgan, vice president for product and business development in the Northwest. “In our area, Kaiser Permanente has long provided its Medicare members with high-quality, affordable care, including prescription coverage. We believe our new individual Medicare Advantage offering, which includes Part D prescription drug coverage, provides even greater value to our Medicare members.”
In the Northwest, Kaiser Permanente will offer an individual Medicare Advantage plan with no prescription drug deductibles and no additional premium for prescription drugs.
Kaiser Permanente individual Medicare Advantage members who wish to remain enrolled with Kaiser Permanente for 2006 need not take any action to enroll in our new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. And they do not need to select another Medicare prescription drug plan. Kaiser Permanente will send them additional details regarding their 2006 medical benefits, which include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, after Oct. 1, 2005, when CMS authorizes plans to begin direct marketing activities.
Medicare members have important choices to make under the new Medicare prescription drug plan. In particular we encourage Medicare members to keep in mind the following points:
• According to CMS regulations, Medicare Advantage members can only belong to one Medicare prescription drug plan at a time. Kaiser Permanente will offer the new Medicare Part D drug plan in combination with its existing Medicare Advantage program. CMS will require Kaiser Permanente to disenroll Medicare Advantage members who join another Medicare drug plan. If they choose another Medicare drug plan, they will automatically lose their Kaiser Permanente health plan membership and health care providers.
• New financial assistance – Low Income Subsidy (LIS) – is available to help Medicare members with limited incomes to cover the cost of their Medicare prescription drug coverage. Kaiser Permanente will actively work to identify and qualify its existing Medicare members with limited incomes so they can benefit from this valuable new source of financial assistance.
In addition, any Medicare member with questions about LIS may also contact the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778 for the hearing and speech impaired), Ore. visit them online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.
Kaiser Permanente is America’s leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it serves the health needs of 8.3 million people nationwide, including 470,000 in Oregon and Southwest Washington.