Local seniors received help Thursday navigating the intricacies of Medicare Part D’s prescription drug program from U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s office and GeorgiaCares representatives. Kingston, R-Ga., sponsored a Medicare Part D workshop at Savannah Technical College’s Liberty County campus on Airport Road.
“The cost and coverage of the Medicare prescription drug plan can change over time,” Kingston said in a release. “I encourage those people with Medicare to take this time to review those changes and make sure they still have the plan that best fits their needs or the needs of their loved one. Adequate prescription drug coverage is very important to many older Americans and we want to make sure that all of their questions are answered.”
Retiree Sarah Atkinson of Midway attended the workshop to find a prescription drug plan that will help her save some money. Atkinson said she is struggling to get by on a fixed income.
“I need all the help I can get with the cost of my prescriptions and doctor’s visits,” Atkinson said. She is also helping to raise a teenage granddaughter. Atkinson retired in 1994 from the health-care field.
“We try to do this (workshops) as a public service,” said Tim Wessinger, Kingston’s district press secretary. “It’s complicated. We give them the facts. They make the decision. We can’t suggest a plan.”
What they can do is navigate the Medicare website for Coastal Georgia seniors, comparing each plan so they can see for themselves the various costs of premiums, deductibles and even each prescription, Wessinger explained. The website also can pinpoint pharmacies’ locations and list which plans are accepted by local pharmacies. Seniors can also see if their prescriptions are available through a mail order option, he said.
“Veterans can use VA (Department of Veterans Affairs prescription benefits) as their primary and Medicare D as a supplement,” Wessinger added.
Seniors are eligible for Medicare at age 65 and must enroll in Part D if they receive Medicare benefits, Wessinger said. The current enrollment period ends Dec. 31.
Kingston’s staffer expected about 100 residents to attend Thursday’s workshop in Liberty County. He said so many seniors showed at a workshop held in Savannah this week that a second workshop had to be scheduled. About 300 Savannah seniors were assisted with Medicare Part D last year, the congressman’s press secretary said.
“If it wasn’t for GeorgiaCares we couldn’t do this,” Wessinger said.
Amanda Carter, GeorgiaCares coordinator for Coastal Georgia’s nine counties, trained Kingston’s staff to help seniors comprehend the ever-changing Medicare Part D program.
GeorgiaCares assists seniors year-round, Carter said. GeorgiaCares provides one-on-one counseling, community education and outreach regarding Medicare, health-care rights and protections, financial assistance programs and prescription assistance, she said.
GeorgiaCares is a public-private partnership under the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services. For more information, visit www.mygeorgiacares.org or call 1-800-669-8387.