If you're a senior on Medicare — or an adult child responsible for a senior on Medicare — here's something you should know: The annual "open enrollment" period for joining or changing prescription drug or private health plans is already under way.
"It's much earlier this year. It started on Oct. 15, and it's going to stop on Dec. 7," says Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor and health expert at Consumer Reports. "So you have your window right now."
Just how powerful is Medicare as a political weapon? So powerful that for the past two election cycles it's been a favorite cudgel for both Republicans and Democrats.
And the election of Democrat Kathy Hochul to fill a traditionally GOP seat in upstate New York in May is just the latest demonstration.
Hochul and the national Democratic party ran a campaign based on large part on the House Republican Budget passed in April that would essential privatize the government program for the elderly and disabled. And their campaign worked.