BENEFITS BYTE

August 13, 2004
BB 04—88

HHS Issues Medicare 'Message of the Day'; Offers Conference Calls

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released several Medicare "Messages of the Day" that provide information on the changes made by the recently enacted Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA). The August 11 message provides an overview for employers of the subsidy they can receive for offering retiree drug coverage that is at least actuarially equivalent in value to the Medicare drug benefit that begins in January 2006.

The messages from HHS are part of a broader campaign to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the operation of the new law. Similarly, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting a nationwide Open Door Forum conference call on August 19 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) to discuss the implementation of the new federal subsidy program and other options available to support the continuation of employer-sponsored retiree prescription drug benefits under the MMA. In addition to the August 19 call on employer-sponsored retiree prescription drug benefits, CMS is also hosting an August 16 Open Door Forum conference call from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), which is intended as a broad overview on all of the issues addressed in the agency's recent regulations to implement the MMA (available here: Subpart J: Rules for Employer Options | Subpart R: Employer Subsidy).

For more information, contact Paul Dennett, Council vice president, health policy, or Susan Relland, Council health policy legal counsel, at (202) 289-6700.

###

The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.