Sunday, June 25, 2006

Action Will Be Taken

"'Sanction authority is not designed to be punitive,' the administration said." NYTimes (06.25.06):
"After enthusiastically promoting Medicare drug plans for three years, the Bush administration is having difficulty regulating these same plans to ensure they comply with federal standards for marketing, customer service and consumer protection." Troubles Linger in Regulation of Medicare Customer Service
What insurers are supposed to do is address and resolve complaints themselves. What's actually happening is many are just telling consumers to call Medicare. "In a recent memorandum to insurers, Cynthia G. Tudor, a senior Medicare official, said the government 'has been receiving a large number of urgent requests from beneficiaries who are enrolled' in drug plans under the new program, known as Part D of Medicare." "On two occasions in the last month, Ms. Tudor reminded all insurers of their 'obligation to resolve complaints' from their members. She told them not to refer subscribers to 1-800-MEDICARE, saying the federal call center 'is not intended to respond to complaints or questions enrollees have about their particular Part D plan.'" There are substantive penalties for violations. However, "the Bush administration said it saw no need to disclose the penalties or other sanctions that might be imposed on prescription drug plans in the future. A public listing of enforcement actions 'could unfairly impede business opportunities' for insurers that later correct their deficiencies, it said." As in the Administration doesn't want to tell us because it might embarrass the insurers. Rest assured though. "Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said his agency was monitoring plans' compliance with federal standards and would 'take action when appropriate.'"


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