Legislators Support Extension of Emergency Drug Coverage for Dual Eligibles
State lawmakers on Tuesday voiced support for a bill (AB 132) that would provide as much as $150 million to extend prescription drug coverage for one million residents dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal who are having problems obtaining medications under the Medicare drug benefit, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The legislation is expected to reach Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) desk by Thursday.
The bill, introduced by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) would extend the five-day emergency measure for up to 30 days. The extension would be retroactive to Jan. 12.
Pharmacies would be reimbursed for the costs of medications if they can certify that they were unable to obtain necessary information about an enrollee, that a claim was incorrectly denied or that a low-income beneficiary was charged more than a $1 to $5 copayment (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/18).
Since Thursday, the state has paid for about 34,000 prescriptions.
According to some health care advocacy groups, many claims still are being denied under Medicare (Halper/Berthelsen, Los Angeles Times, 1/18).
Schwarzenegger said he will seek federal reimbursement for the stop-gap measure. However, Bush administration officials have said they have no statutory authority to pay states for the program (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/18).
Instead, the state will have to recoup money from the 19 private companies offering prescription drug coverage under the new Medicare program (Shaw, Stockton Record, 1/18).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.