La Casa offers clarity on Medicare D program

By Tony Parra

Cutting through the confusion surrounding the new Medicare D prescription drug program, La Casa de Buena Salud healthcare officials want to offer enrollment help for those who have not signed up.

Debra Herman, pharmacist clinician and director of pharmacy services for La Casa de Buena Salud, said since the start of enrollment in the Medicare D program on Nov. 15 pharmacy technicians have enrolled approximately 3,000 people in the eastern New Mexico area in the new prescription drug program. There are four La Casa de Buena Salud health clinics in eastern New Mexico located in Portales, Clovis, Roswell and Hondo.

“Our pharmacy techs have sat down with the patient and spent 30-45 minutes with them in some cases,” Herman said. “They’ve been finding out what meds they take and getting them enrolled.”

Herman said the 3,000 people they helped enroll in the Medicare D program does not include the people who were on Medicaid and automatically enrolled in the Medicare D program.

“We want to advise them on all of the options they have,” Jeanette Chavez, director of marketing and public relations for La Casa de Buena Salud, said. “All we’re offering is an explanation of their needs with what they have.”

Herman said La Casa de Buena Salud technicians do not endorse one prescription drug program over another. She said some patients with low income may qualify for the patient assistance program to help pay for premiums. According to Herman, the pharmacy technicians and clinicians review deductibles, premiums, the list of prescription drugs covered and the long-term savings.

“With some programs, patients don’t have to pay a $250 deductible,” Herman said. “There are companies with a $250 deductible, but the co-pays are lower, and in some cases the overall yearly costs. The goal is to try to keep the yearly costs down.”

Herman said they have been extremely busy helping enroll people into the program since the opening of enrollment. She said they can help Curry, Roosevelt, Chavez and Lincoln county residents with questions about the Medicare D program are still enrolling residents.

She said what the pharmacy technicians are seeing with the enrollment process is that people are receiving the prescription card in the mail the following month of enrollment.

According to the Medicare.gov Web site, If you don’t join a plan by May 15 you will have to wait until November 15 to sign up. When you do sign up, your premium cost will go up at least 1 percent per month for every month that you wait to enroll.

People can also go to the Medicare.gov Web site to learn more about the program and the best option for prescription drug coverage.

Alejandro Hernandez of Portales said he saves between 70 to 90 percent on his prescription drugs with his prescription drug card. Hernandez said on one prescription drug he spends $3 out of pocket for a $13 prescription drug.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Federico Silva of Portales said. “I have to take four different types of prescription drugs for things like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It would be expensive for me to have to pay it without a prescription drug card.”