Help is on its way to Mesa for anyone confused about Sunday’s Medicare changes — and it’s arriving in a big blue bus.
Medicare officials are scheduled to visit the Mesa Senior Center East today in the Medicare Rx Express, answering questions about the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program and enrolling senior citizens in a plan that suits them. The bus is loaded with laptop computers and experts who will work one-on-one with recipients to navigate more than 80 private plans.
"There are multiple questions (from seniors) every day saying, ‘What am I going to do about Part D?’ " said Jane Eck, senior center director. "So it will be good for them to talk with people who know what they’re doing and who aren’t just trying to sell them."
Phone lines created to provide free help understanding the subsidized private plans have been jammed since Sunday, forcing officials and volunteers to work overtime, said Ann Marie Grande, manager of the benefits assistance program at the Area Agency on Aging.
Medicare officials said they hope the bus visit will help clear the confusion.
"From what I hear it’s quite involved, so the challenge is finding what is best for me," said R.J. Emme, 89, who has not yet enrolled because he is researching his options as a person who takes no medication.
Ken Seefurth, 85, of Mesa said he does not understand how the program works, but that it has saved him a lot of money. "I got one prescription over $100, but now it’s only $30," he said.
The deadline to make choices is May 15. Those who miss the date face additional costs for waiting to enroll, said Jack Cheeves, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman.
Where: Mesa Senior Center East, Red Mountain Multigenerational Center, 7550 E. Adobe Road
When: 1 to 4 p.m. today
Information: (480) 218-2211