We're from Medicare and We're Here to Help You

The NY Times reported US Government Accountability Office found that about 30% of callers to a help number for Medicare patients got wrong answers to questions about Medicare's new drug benefit, while 10% got no answers at all. For example, in response to a question about whether Medicare would pay for a motorized wheel-chair, the help line operator responded that it would depend on whether the wheel-chair would fit in the patient's car trunk. The real answer was that the decision would depend on the patient's trunk strength, that is, upper body strength. Oops.
It turns out that the help-line is not actually run by Medicare, but is out-sourced to Pearson Government Solutions, a subsidiary of Pearson PLC, a corporation based in London that publishes the Financial Times, and Penguin Books. A Pearson spokesperson said the government told him not to answer questions from the press.

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