Expect Part D enrollment delays: report

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It could take more than a year to enroll eligible low-income Medicare beneficiaries in the Part D drug program, the Access to Benefits Coalition said in a new report. Moreover, new outreach efforts will be necessary, according to the report.

Low-income beneficiaries have historically proven difficult to reach and enroll in subsidy programs, according to Chairman James Firman. Up to 14 million people will be eligible for the new Part D low-income subsidy.

More than 6 million will be automatically enrolled in the program because they are already receiving help from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. About 70% of nursing home residents are in this "dual eligible" category. Outreach groups are focused on about 8 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries who will not be deemed eligible for the subsidy or automatically enrolled.

The best beneficiary outreach efforts use a number of approaches, including phone-based enrollment and one-on-one assistance, the report found. Using lists of beneficiaries likely to be eligible for the subsidy program also is an efficient way of targeting beneficiaries, Firman said.

The report, Pathways to Success: Meeting the Challenge of Enrolling Medicare Beneficiaries with Limited Incomes, is available at http://www.accesstobenefits.org/Helpful%20Resources/Reference%20Room/#PartDResearch.