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AARP helps inform seniors about Medicare

BURLINGTON - "If in doubt, fill it out."

That's what AARP Ohio volunteer Ann Lemley was telling seniors at the Sybene Senior Center on Wednesday.

Lemley and volunteers from the AARP were at the Sybene Senior Center to assist seniors in applying for extra help to pay for prescription medicines.

This is the first of two phases - seniors with limited income and the second phase will start in October where seniors can come to a meeting and find out the plans available for Ohio. The new Medicare prescription drug coverage begins Jan. 1, 2006.

"People can find out now if they qualify for extra help in paying for their prescription drugs after the new Medicare Part D benefit goes into effect on Jan. 1," Lemley said. "The Limited Income Subsidy will be worth thousands of dollars a year for many people, but they have to apply to receive it."

Seniors who qualify must be recipients of Medicare with incomes up to $1,197 per month and less than $11,500 in assets if single, and $1,604 per month and $23,000 in assets for married people living together.

Your home, vehicle and personal possessions do not count as assets.

Lemley said that those who do not complete the application are people who are on Medicare and full Medicaid, or Medicare and SSI (Supplemental Security Income), because those people will automatically get the extra help.

Anyone who qualifies for limited income assistance, inclusive of those automatically eligible, must enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan after Nov. 15 in order to obtain coverage.

Lemley said that it is important that everyone attends the Oct. 25 meeting at the Grandview Inn so they can find out what plans will be available in our state.

Dorothy Morrison of South Point came to the session to fill out the application, and she said that the forms were not difficult to fill out. Morrison said that she will benefit from help with drug costs. Now Morrison said, she'll wait until October to hear something.

"I think it'll be great," she said.

Some, who attended however, were not convinced. Betty and Albert Randall came to fill out the application.

"We won't know anything until October," Betty Randall said. "If you don't, you'll have to pay for all your prescriptions yourself."

Randall said that they'll lose their prescription cards at the beginning of the year.

"I just don't think they treat the seniors right," she said. "You work your whole life, and for nothing."