Senate Democrats asked the Department of Health and Human Services to take additional actions in advance of the open enrollment period to ensure that advertisements for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are not misleading or confusing.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, 14 Democratic senators led by Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan, D- N.D., asked the department to make sure that plans do not use words in their advertisements such as “complete,” “premier plus” or “gold,” unless they fill the gap in drug coverage under Part D known as the “donut hole.”

“Although several of these plans do cover generic drugs in the donut hole, seniors in these plans will have to pay 100% of the cost out-of-pocket for brand name products,” the senators said in their letter. “How can a plan be called ‘complete’ when it contains a gap in drug coverage?”

The senators suggested that Medicare Part D marketing guidelines be revised to ensure that plan names are not confusing or misleading. “In addition,” they added, “if a plan contains a gap in coverage, it should be required to disclose this gap in all of its marketing materials.”

Other Democratic Senators who signed the letter include Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., also signed the letter.