Governors Will Discuss Medicare Drug Benefit With Bush
Concerns about the Medicare prescription drug benefit are expected to be some of the "main issues" governors will raise on Monday in a meeting with President Bush and his Cabinet, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 2/26). The National Governors Association's winter meeting began in Washington, D.C., on Saturday (Tanner, AP/Tennessean, 2/25).
Governors likely will raise concerns about "clawback" payments states must make to the federal government under the drug benefit and discuss a timeline for reimbursements from the federal government for expenses states incurred during start of the drug benefit, according to the AP/Daily Star (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 2/26).
Under the 2003 Medicare law, Medicare assumes prescription drug costs for dual eligibles -- individuals eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare -- and states will have to pay the federal government as much as 90% of the estimated amount that they would have spent on Medicaid coverage for medications for dual eligibles, otherwise known as a clawback payment. The rate will decrease to 75% over time (California Healthline, 2/24).
Some governors are concerned about making the clawback payments to the federal government while also covering expenses for prescriptions for dual eligibles who experienced problems obtaining medications under the drug benefit, the AP/Daily Star reports. Many states took emergency steps to ensure that dual eligibles could access prescriptions after reports that beneficiaries were experiencing problems obtaining medications under the drug benefit.
The federal government has said it will reimburse states for expenses related to emergency measures taken to ensure that dual eligibles could access medications (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 2/26).
The first two days of the NGA meeting focused on Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R) "Healthy America" initiative, a program to promote anti-obesity efforts (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 2/24).
In a speech on Saturday, Huckabee, chair of NGA, highlighted existing state anti-obesity programs and urged cultural changes that would change perceptions of obesity in ways similar to campaigns against littering, smoking, and drinking and driving. Policy discussions were expected to begin Monday, including the meeting with Bush and cabinet officials (AP/Tennessean, 2/25).
At a separate session Monday afternoon, governors will meet with CMS Administrator Mark McClellan to discuss changes to Medicaid. According to CQ HealthBeat, McClellan will advise governors on "how they can take advantage of benefits flexibility, copayment, prescription drug and asset transfer provisions to save money."
The session will also include discussions with Scott Beeken, an executive with Great American Insurance; Mark Birdwhistell, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services; and Chris Jennings, White House health care adviser under President Clinton (CQ HealthBeat, 2/24).