Ritter Insurance Marketing, Craig Ritter

Complaints about Medicare drug benefit declining, GAO auditors say

The AP (7/29, Freking) reports, “Complaints about the Medicare drug benefit have dropped considerably since the summer of 2006, but ongoing challenges still pose problems for participants, particularly in getting complaints addressed promptly,” according to auditors with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO auditors “tracked nearly 630,000 complaints filed with the federal government during an 18-month period ending Oct. 31.” They found that “the monthly complaint rate had dropped about 74 percent from peak levels — to 1.5 complaints per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Also, the time needed to resolve the complaints dropped from 33 days to nine days.”

        But, Modern Healthcare (7/28, Lubell) pointed out that “a substantial proportion of complaints filed when beneficiaries were at risk of exhausting their medications were not resolved within the CMS’ [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] desired time frames, according to a written statement from the Energy and Commerce Committee.” The GAO auditors “found that 53 percent of ‘immediate need complaints’ and 27 percent of ‘urgent need complaints’ were not resolved in a timely fashion.” The GAO conducted the review following “a request from leaders of the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).”

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