HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that enrollments in SeniorCare, a Wisconsin drug benefit program aimed at low-income seniors, have risen over the past year. According to the latest issue of Wisconsin Health Plan Analysis, in December 2005 the state received 175 applications to the program per day, a 150 percent increase over the 70 applications a day a year before.
"State officials have long touted SeniorCare as a more attractive and beneficial program than the Medicare Part D drug benefit, and many seniors seem to agree," said Ric Gross, HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst. "Most seniors who enroll in Medicare Part D after the end of the introductory six-month enrollment period on May 15 will face a penalty, but SeniorCare participants can enroll in a Part D plan without penalty all the way through the middle of 2007. SeniorCare won't last forever, but right now, it looks like a safe haven from any early Part D turmoil."
SeniorCare, which provides prescription drug benefits to low-income seniors in Wisconsin who are over 65 and not eligible for Medicaid, has been operating in the state since 2002 under a federal Pharmacy Plus waiver. The waiver expires on June 20, 2007, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services are unlikely to renew it.
The state is talking about developing a new "wraparound" benefit, but whatever gets developed will not have the favorable financing structure of SeniorCare, which derives its funds, not only from state and federal governments, but from drug company rebates and pharmacy discounts as well.
Other health plan news in Wisconsin: * Premium rate increases from health plans participating in the State Group Health Insurance Program are averaging 8.3 percent for 2006. About Health Plan Analysis
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