If drug costs surpass $5,100, Medicare will pay 95% and the beneficiary only 5%," James Kerr, CMS director for Region II, explained.Kerr
also explained CMS
is on an awareness campaign to get the word out on the new drug benefits."This is the first phase," said Kerr
."The second phase-to start in July, or so-is what we call the decision-making phase.We want to give all 600,000 beneficiaries [in Puerto Rico] enough information to make a decision as to whether or not they want to sign up for the program.Visiting doctors' offices and other areas where beneficiaries gather will be part of the strategy to get the word out.
"May 15, 2006, is the deadline for eligible beneficiaries to sign up," said Kerr
."Those who do so by the deadline will pay the $37 a month premium.If they wait until after the deadline, the premium goes up," he
added, saying this is exactly the way it will work in the States.Kerr
revealed the program also offers employer subsidies."If an employer offers a prescription benefit plan to company retirees that is as good as, or better, than the Medicare
will subsidize up to about $661 [before taxes] per retired employee per year for keeping the company-sponsored drug plan in place," he
explained, highlighting the subsidy will be adjusted for inflation.
Regarding the financing of the PDP, Kerr
pointed out that the U.S. territories as a whole will receive a block grant of about $28 million, of which Puerto Rico will get about 98%.
"That is for the last three quarters of 2006.That money is for about 225,000 dual-eligible [for Medicare
and Medicaid] beneficiaries in the program.The remainder will buy into the program," Kerr
indicated, adding that by fiscal 2007, funds will increase to more than $37 million.In the States, there isn't a block grant as in the U.S. territories.Stateside, the federal government covers the premiums, according to Kerr