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News of the Day ... In Perspective

01/18/2006

Tens of thousands can’t get prescriptions filled under Medicare Part D

Some governors declared a public health emergency as Part D beneficiaries, primarily dually eligible Medicaid recipients who are required to participate in Part D, left pharmacies empty-handed.

The Bush Administration ordered insurers to provide a 30-day supply of any drug a beneficiary was previously taking, saying that poor people could not be charged more than $5 for a covered drug.

“The handling of the new drug benefit threatens to become a political liability for Republicans and for the Bush administration,” writes Robert Pear (NY Times 1/16/05).

Although more than 20 states have had to help pay for medicines that senior citizens and disabled persons could not get through their new coverage, HHS Secretary Leavitt said the program was doing quite well. The voluntary enrollment of 2 million was exceeding expectations. The rest of the 21 million enrollees were signed up automatically because of participation in other programs such as Medicaid or employment-related coverage now subsidized by the taxpayers.

“We’re filling more than a million prescriptions a day,” Leavitt said (AP 1/17/06).

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