NU Online News Service, March 23, 2005, 2:50 p.m. EST

A Louisville, Ky., health insurer has agreed to provide prescription benefits for older Americans.[@@]

The insurer, Humana Inc., says it has applied for permission from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to be a national player in the new Medicare Part D drug benefit program.

Humana wants to sell stand-alone Part D drug coverage in up to 31 of the Medicare program’s 34 regions, Humana says.

Humana also wants to offer the new Medicare preferred provider organization plans in up to 16 of the Medicare PPO program’s 26 regions, Humana says.