Legislature Approves Emergency Medicare Drug Coverage
The Assembly on Monday voted 56-5 to approve emergency legislation (AB 813) that would extend emergency drug coverage through January 2007 for some state residents who have problems receiving medications under the Medicare drug benefit, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Under the bill, the state would cover the costs of prescription drugs for state residents dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare who experience difficulty obtaining medications through the Medicare drug benefit.
Legislation that authorized the current emergency drug coverage, which expires on Tuesday, allocated $120 million for such coverage. As of May 9, California had paid $65.7 million for medications for 284,000 state residents. State officials expect the federal government to reimburse the state $46.9 million, the amount the state had spent on emergency coverage up to March 31.
The Assembly vote approved amendments to the bill made in the Senate. The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who is expected to sign it, the AP/Times reports (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/16).
Separately, Illinois officials said low-income and disabled Medicare beneficiaries who did not meet Monday's enrollment deadline can receive prescription drug coverage through the state pharmaceutical assistance plan through Dec. 31. To qualify for the program, called Illinois Cares Rx, beneficiaries must have annual incomes of $19,600 or less or $21,218 for beneficiaries with cancer or certain other conditions.
For beneficiaries already enrolled in the Medicare drug benefit and Illinois Cares Rx, the state program will pay for any premiums, copayments or coverage gaps not covered by Medicare. Beneficiaries already enrolled in the drug benefit who have not signed up for Illinois Cares Rx will not be eligible for the state program (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 5/16).