Appeared in South Florida's Sun-Sentinel on July 17, 2006
I'd like to add some clarification to your report, "Feds find drug-benefit call center problems" (Wednesday), on a new study by the Government Accountability Office. The study was requested by members of Congress who have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the new Medicare Part D plan, and the study appears designed to give them new fuel.
The GAO study leaves the impression that seniors get woefully inadequate and even erroneous information when they call drug plan sponsors. While calls were answered in five minutes or less 96 percent of the time, the GAO said operators were able to answer GAO's questions completely and accurately only 20 percent to 60 percent of the time.
But the GAO asked for some information that the call centers are not required to provide and which they may even be prohibited from providing, and which operators therefore were not trained to answer.
And even answers that were correct were not marked as such if they didn't meet the GAO's narrow specifications.
Seniors, drug plans, and the Medicare agency are all working to iron out the bugs in this massive new program, and distorted information like this only confuses seniors further.