California Dual Eligibles Face Drug Plan Changes
A seniors advocacy group estimates that about 270,000 low-income Medicare beneficiaries will have to transfer to other prescription drug plans less than two weeks after CMS said no such change was expected, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the National Senior Citizens Law Center, four of the 10 prescription drug plans currently available to low-income Medicare beneficiaries in California will not be available in 2007.
Medicare pays the monthly premium for people dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Companies that offer health plans for these beneficiaries must renew their contracts with the federal government annually, or they can opt to withdraw the plan. Companies also are permitted to increase premiums, but if premiums increase above a certain level, the federal government will not subsidize it for dual eligibles.
PacifiCare and UnitedHealth Group for 2007 are each withdrawing one plan that was available to dual eligibles in 2006. Premiums for a plan offered by Health Net are projected to increase above the subsidy level, as are premiums for a plan called AARP MedicareRX, which UnitedHealth administers.
Health Net spokesperson David Olson said about 70,000 beneficiaries currently enrolled in its plan will be transferred to another Health Net plan that is eligible for the federal subsidy.
The Times reports that about 200,000 people currently enrolled in the PacifiCare, UnitedHealth and AARP plans will be transferred to a plan called AARP MedicareRX Plan Saver (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 10/12).