Groups lobby senators to waive Part D late enrollment deadline

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Advocacy groups, including the National Council on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association, are urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would waive the financial penalty for Medicare beneficiaries who missed the May 15 deadline for enrolling in the prescription drug program.

A bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA) and ranking member Max Baucus (D-MT) in May would eliminate the penalty for those who sign up for a drug plan during the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. The penalty is equal to a 1% increase in premium costs for each month of delayed enrollment.

Meanwhile, support for the drug benefit appears to be increasing among those who are self-enrolled. Seventy percent of these seniors would recommend that others sign for the benefit, according to a poll commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans. It is the third in a series of tracking polls by this industry group.