Jackson, Lee Encourage Enrollment in Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Sunday in Oakland, Calif., encouraged Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in the prescription drug benefit, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. At a church service, Jackson and Lee told a crowd of several hundred that, although the Medicare prescription drug benefit has problems, the program could help them reduce their medication costs by an average of $1,400 annually. "For folks on a fixed income, that's a pretty big deal," Jackson said, adding, "It's an issue that cuts across race, class and community. ... We're saying, 'Do not be afraid.'" According to Jackson, some Medicare beneficiaries have not enrolled in the prescription drug benefit because they are confused, "can't read or write well," or "feel they need a lawyer." Lee estimates that three million eligible Medicare beneficiaries have not enrolled in the prescription drug benefit and said that Hispanics and blacks account for a large percentage of those beneficiaries (Doyle, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/18). The not-for-profit foundation of UnitedHealthcare sponsored the event, part of a campaign by the coalition to promote awareness among minorities in five cities about the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 12/7). Jackson said, "We're signing up people by the thousands. It's like voter registration" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.