Medicare Drug Benefit Necessitates Permanent Safety Net, Advocates Say
About 25 advocacy groups on Wednesday called for a permanent safety net for seniors and disabled state residents who experience problems obtaining medicines through Medicare prescription drug plans, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The groups -- including the California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Health Advocates, Congress of California Seniors and the National Senior Citizens Law Center -- want the state to continue providing coverage of last resort for new drug benefit enrollees who experience problems and to cover copayments beneficiaries are charged by their drug plans.
Unless a permanent safety net is put in place, problems experienced when the program was launched in January will recur and patients will be without life-saving drugs, advocates said. In addition, similar problems could occur every month as more people enroll in the drug benefit or switch coverage, according to the groups.
Medicare drug plans on March 31 will end transitional coverage for those who enrolled early. The coverage requires the plans to pay for refills of medications a beneficiary was previously taking even if the drug was not part of the plan's formulary.
California emergency coverage is expected to be extended until May 16 (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 3/16).