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Heed looming deadline for Medicare drug-plan notices

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in Human Resources

Issue: The 2003 Medicare reform law adds a new paperwork burden for some employers.

Risk: Failing to provide "creditable coverage notices" by Nov. 15 could bring unwanted heat from the feds.

Action: Discover if you're covered under this requirement. If so, hit the deadline.

If your organization provides prescription drug coverage to employees who are eligible for Medicare's new prescription drug-benefit program (Medicare Part D), you soon must comply with a new notification deadline.

By Nov. 15, you're required to disclose whether your drug-benefit plan is "creditable" or "not creditable." Creditable coverage means that an organization's coverage is at least equal to the Medicare Part D drug benefits that become effective Jan. 1, 2006. Most drug plans will likely be creditable.

The new Medicare drug plan was created as part of the big Medicare reform law approved in 2003.

Eligible employers must issue the "creditable" notices every year to people who are eligible for Part D benefits and who are covered (or apply for) the employer's drug plan.

To make it easier for employers, the government posted model creditable-coverage disclosure notices and more details at www.cms.hhs.gov/medicarereform/credcovrg.asp.

Advice: Expect questions from employees about the Medicare program and how it interacts with your drug plan. If your company's drug coverage is better than the Medicare version, drive it home to employees through additional communications and postings.

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