In December 2003, the Medicare Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, Public Law 108-173 (Medicare Act of 2003) was signed into law. The law’s much talked about Medicare prescription drug coverage will not begin until 2006. In the mean time, the law creates a Medicare prescription drug discount card and transitional assistance program. This program will be in effect from June 2004 through December 31, 2005.

Enrollment in the prescription drug card program will begin in May 2004.  Enrollment will be accomplished by filing an application with the card sponsor.  People with full Medicaid benefits that cover prescription drug costs, including those who are in a Medicaid "waiver" program, may not enroll in a discount drug card.  Also, individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (formerly Medicare+Choice) plan which offers a prescription drug card for its members may only get a prescription drug card through that plan.  If the MA plan does not offer a Medicare approved discount card, or offers a card that is also open to non-members, the MA enrollee may choose any Medicare approved discount card offered in their state.

In Connecticut, HealthNet of Connecticut is offering a discount card, so beneficiaries enrolled in that MA plan must use that card.  Those who are not enrolled in that MA plan may choose from any of the other "general" sponsors listed below.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will send beneficiaries information in May 2004 about the discount cards available to them.  However, the information will not include comparative information about the prices of prescriptions negotiated by various card sponsors.  Beneficiaries will have to contact each plan sponsor individually to determine if the card will include the prescriptions they need, and what the prices will be.

It is important to note that while an individual may enroll in only one Medicare-endorsed prescription drug discount card, the individual may maintain or enroll in several cards that are not endorsed by Medicare, and may want to do so to achieve the best savings on prescription drug costs.

Click on the link below for the general Medicare-endorsed sponsors who will provide cards for any eligible applicant throughout the country, the sponsors who will provide Medicare-approved cards only to plan members, or for general enrollment forms.  The information comes from

  • National General sponsors list (.pdf) (anyone in the service area may participate in these plans)

    This list includes names of cards offered, annual enrollment fees, and contact information.

  • Regional cards only, listed by state (.pdf) (anyone in the service area may participate in these plans)

    This list, broken down by state, includes names of regional cards available in each state, annual enrollment fees, and contact information.

  • Special endorsement cards (.pdf) (cards for long-term care, Indian health services, and U.S. territories)

    This list includes sponsors, names of available cards, annual enrollment fees, and contact information.

  • Exclusive Medicare Advantage plan list, listed by state (.pdf) (only MA plan members may participate in cards offered by that plan)

    This list is further broken down by state.  It includes the MA plan, number of plans it offers in the state, the type of organization, and enrollment fees, and contact information.

  • General enrollment forms (.pdf)
    Forms are not plan-specific.  Forms listed here include a standard form for enrollment in a drug card only, standard form for drug card and additional assistance, standard form for drug card and assistance in Hawaii, standard form for drug card and assistance in Alaska, and an instruction sheet for all of the above.

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