Jun 7, 2006

Serious Social Security Payment Problems Due To Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit

From the Tampa Tribune:
More than half a million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in health plans or prescription drug plans are receiving the wrong payments each month from Social Security, say officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington.

About 16,000 beneficiaries clustered in three states - Nevada, Florida and Texas - have been shortchanged because Social Security computers deduct Medicare premiums they do not owe. Most are out more than $500, and many are owed more than $1,000.

But the vast majority, about a half-million beneficiaries, has the opposite problem: They were overpaid because their premiums were not deducted from their Social Security payments as they requested.

Now, those beneficiaries owe several months of premiums, often hundreds of dollars. And private insurers are faced with the ticklish task of trying to recover the money.

Senior officials of the two agencies involved - CMS and the Social Security Administration - have been meeting several times a week recently to try to resolve the issues, said Thomas Hutchinson, acting director of CMS' Medicare Plan Payment Group.

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