Critics Voice Concerns About Medicare Drug Benefit
Critics of the Medicare drug benefit on Tuesday told lawmakers that there are still problems with the benefit, which was launched Jan. 1, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports.
About a third of the one million Californians dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid were assigned to Part D plans that cover less than 85% of their medications, Jeanne Finberg, directing attorney of the National Senior Citizen Law Center, said at a hearing of the Assembly Health and Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care committees.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of pharmacists responding to monthly surveys by the California Pharmacists Association said they have had problems processing claims and getting reimbursed under the benefit, according to Michael Negrete, vice president for clinical affairs for CPA.
Critics said other problems with the benefit include data system failures, overcharging for medications, inability to get answers to questions and a lack of information in languages other than English and Spanish (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 3/22).
In related news, the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Tuesday examined problems with the drug benefit that local pharmacists are experiencing (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/21).
The California HealthCare Foundation on Tuesday released an issue brief that found low-income state residents have fewer choices under Medicare Part D plans than they did under Medi-Cal. Two newspapers on Wednesday reported on the study:
- "Medicare Drug Coverage Inferior to State Program" (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 3/22).
- "One Million Haven't Picked Drug Plan" (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 3/22).
The issue brief is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the brief. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.