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Ed Yeates ReportingSenators Bennett and Hatch and others out of Washington came to Utah today hoping to dispel confusion surrounding the new Medicare drug discount cards.
For those pharmacies choosing to participate with the government, these cards now are becoming a familiar site among senior citizens.
Dr. Mark McClellan, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid: "We've already seen more than three million seniors sign up for this program, and people were expecting that even over the course of the next year or two, only seven million would get it."
That means applications are coming in better than expected. But many seniors came to this town meeting still questioning the discounts - still confused about how and who should get the cards.
Sharon Nielson, Senior Citizen: “It needed to be written by a third grader. I don’t know how else to explain it. It wasn’t clear.”
But that was before the meeting. Sharon and Ray Nielson had a chance for some one-on-one help going to the Medicare web site and filling out the forms. Seniors can choose a company partnered with the government that gives them the best tailor-made deal. They can compare and shop for the lowest prices, picking pharmacies close to home.
Though some companies originally tried to bait and switch by offering discounts from jacked up prices, the website now puts everything in front of the senior. Medicare claims this open-for-all-to-see competition has brought down many drug prices about ten percent in this first month.
Medicare says it's also tightening up surveillance of scams and frauds.
Dr. Mark McClellan: "Seniors need to know that Medicare has put in a number of steps to make sure that legitimate cards follow the rules and give seniors real help."
While grandkids or children may have to help some seniors fill out the new forms, those at the town meeting today learned how to do it themselves.
Sharon Nielson: "There was not a lot of political blah blah. It was to the point. There was a lot of hands on."