CMS is upgrading the number of telephone operators to assist with Medicare Part D again, this time from 3,000 to 7,800. That's after its previous tinkering from 150 to 4,500 (apparently they never got past 3,000).
At the National Health Policy Conference, there was a lot of praise from progressives for Mark McClellan despite his bungling of Medicare Part D's implementation. But the absolute floundering of Medicare telephone assistance invites deep skepticism of McClellan's competence.
It's important to add more phone operators, the real problem is that seniors still aren't sold on the benefit itself. As 53% of seniors polled have no plans to sign up, the Adminstration needs to focus on convincing them that it's in their best interest to buy into a plan. That's to both avoid financial problems because of unexpected drug costs, but also for the program's long-term viability. Otherwise it's doomed to adverse selection, and we'll have to start from scratch.