Penalties waived if bill passes

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2006

By Staff
WASHINGTON - Cass County's congressman, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is helping lead the push to waive the late fees for seniors who missed the May 15 deadline to sign up for the Medicare drug benefit.
As it currently stands, seniors who sign up for the prescription drug plan during the next enrollment period would be subject to a monthly penalty.
The Medicare Fairness Act will waive the monthly premium increase - a policy taken directly from the original Medicare program - for seniors who missed the deadline and sign up for drug coverage during the next enrollment window beginning Nov. 15.
The next opportunity for seniors to enroll will be Nov. 15-Dec. 31, 2006. It should be noted that seniors who have yet to turn 65 will be eligible to sign up for the drug benefit starting three months prior to their 65th birthday, rather than wait until an official enrollment period.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average savings per person is $1,100.
As of April 18, more than 70 percent of Michigan's seniors had already signed up to take advantage of the voluntary program.