The major source of information about Part D, Medicare's new drug program, is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which urges beneficiaries and people assisting them to either call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit the Web site www.medicare.gov.
At www.benefitscheckup.org/, the National Council on the Aging offers an online questionnaire for people considering whether to enroll in one of the drug plans.
A 10-minute demonstration of Medicare's online tool for helping people find a drug plan is available at www.medicare.gov/medicarereform/partdprototype.asp. A transcript of an online chat yesterday with CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan is posted at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.
For District residents, assistance is available from the Health Insurance Counseling Project at George Washington University's National Law Center, 202-739-0668.
Maryland residents may call the state's Department of Aging at 800-243-3425 or 410-767-1100. Local offices include Montgomery (240-777-1131), Prince George's (301-265-8450), Frederick (301-694-1605), Howard (410-313-6410), Anne Arundel (410-222-4464), Charles (301-934-0109), St. Mary's (301-475-4200, extension 1050) and Calvert (410-535-4606 or 301-855-1170).
Virginia residents may contact the state's Department for the Aging at www.aging.state.va.us/vicap.htm or 800-552-3402. Local offices include Alexandria (703-838-0920), Arlington (703-228-1700), Fairfax (703-324-5411 or 866-503-0217), Loudoun (703-777-0257), Prince William (703-792-6400), Stafford/Spotsylvania (800-262-4012 or 540-371-3375) and Fauquier (540-825-3100).
Other sources of information about the drug program include:
* Medicare Rights Center: www.medicarerights.org. (Robert Hayes, president of the center, will be online today at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the drug program. To participate in that dialogue or to read a transcript, go to www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline. )
* Center for Medicare Advocacy: www.medicareadvocacy.org. Details about specific plans can also be obtained from private insurers.