Making sense of Medicare

Dear Friend:

Assemblyman Camara As you may know, there was a Special Election on November 8th (along with the General Election) to fill the vacant 43rd Assembly District seat. I am greatly honored that the voters elected me to represent this wonderful district. I pledge to lead with dignity, integrity and compassion and with a vision that considers the diversity of the district.

I owe a special "thank you" to all of the residents, business owners, block and tenant association presidents, civic organizations and religious leaders for your support. My staff and I are accessible and enthusiastic about serving the 43rd Assembly District.

One thing that it is very important for you to know is that there is a new Medicare prescription drug plan. Please take the time to learn about your options so that you don’t pay too much for your prescription drugs.

Please feel free to call us with your question or concern - or just to say "Hello."

As we prepare to enter a new year, I wish you and your family peace, health and prosperity.

Warm regards,
Karim Camara
Member of the New York State Assembly
43rd Assembly District
231 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn, New York 11225
(718) 756-1776 •

Simplifying Medicare’s new prescription drug coverage

What you
need to

You may have started receiving letters and notices regarding Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, which will help you pay for brand name and generic drugs. The voluntary program takes effect January 1, 2006. It’s important to open, read and save all coverage notices to ensure you understand the benefits you are entitled to.

Unfortunately, the program created by the federal government is tremendously bureaucratic and confusing. To help you find your way through the maze of regulations, here is some basic information:

  • The new Medicare prescription drug program is voluntary. However, if you have both Medicaid and Medicare you must enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan. If you do not pick a plan and enroll before December 31, 2005, you will be enrolled in one of the new drug plans automatically because your Medicaid drug benefit will end on that date.

  • If you have drug coverage (other than Medicaid) now, your current insurance company has to provide you with a notice indicating if your current prescription coverage is "as good or better than" the standard Medicare plan. If it is, you do not have to consider joining a Medicare plan at this time. Otherwise, you should consider signing up for a Medicare drug plan between November 15, 2005 and May 15, 2006 to avoid paying a late enrollment penalty.

  • Seniors with EPIC can keep their EPIC coverage. For some, particularly those eligible for "extra help" for low income beneficiaries, enrolling in the Medicare drug program will mean more savings. EPIC will waive fees for low-income enrollees eligible for full "extra help" who join a Medicare plan.

  • The new Medicare drug program provides "extra help" to pay for drug costs for beneficiaries with lower incomes; contact your local social security office or area agency on aging. Those already in Medicaid or in one of the Medicare savings programs (QMB, SMB and QI-1) will be eligible automatically for "extra help."

  • This new Medicare drug benefit will only be available through private plans. This means that in order to get prescription drugs covered through Medicare, New Yorkers must enroll in one of the plans offering the benefit in New York State. HMOs and other Medicare Advantage plans will also be offering the new prescription drug benefit.

Make an informed decision

Assemblyman Camara urges you to talk with a trained individual who can help you get the answers and information you need. Organizations who can assist you include the Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP), the EPIC program, the StateWide Senior Action Council’s Medicare-EPIC Project, and the Medicare Rights Center.

Important phone numbers and Web sites
***Click here for printable view.***

Agency on Aging (212) 442-1000

HIICAP Hotline 1-800-333-4114

EPIC Helpline 1-800-332-3742

StateWide Helpline 1-800-333-4374

Medicare Rights Center Helpline 1-800-333-4114

Social Security Office (718) 859-2260


Social Security

NYS Health Information



New York City Heat and Hot Water Guidelines
Property owners are required by law to provide adequate heat between October 1st and May 31st. Between 6am and 10pm, if the outside temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the property owners must heat tenants’ apartments to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 10pm and 6am, if the outside temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit property owners must heat tenants’ apartments to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

To File a Complaint
If you are a tenant without heat, call 311. The switchboard is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are freezing, and have no heat or place to go, call 911. If you make a complaint to a City agency write down the complaint number you are given.

Help is Available
The Home Energy Assistance Program helps qualified senior citizen homeowners or tenants, and low-income families with their fuel and utility costs. Apply early because there are limited funds available. For information and/or an application please call 311 or contact my district office.