Newspapers Examine Issues Related to New Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
Several newspapers on Tuesday examined issues related to the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, which begins Jan. 1. Summaries appear below.
Baltimore Sun: The Sun examined how CMS employees have "found themselves in the spotlight, with the answers everyone wants" after President Bush "put their agency in charge" of administering the new drug benefit. The article looks at how the agency, which previously "toiled in relative obscurity," has hired workers from the private sector and implemented a state-level and grassroots outreach campaign to carry out the new drug benefit (Harris, Baltimore Sun, 12/19).
USA Today: USA Today examined some of the challenges facing beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, who will have their prescription drug coverage automatically switched to a Medicare drug plan on Jan. 1. Challenges include that some nursing home operators do not know which plans their residents are enrolled in, many facilities could face varying rules and benefits under different plans for residents, some beneficiaries could lose private retiree prescription drug coverage and some beneficiaries' drugs might not be covered under the new plans to which they are assigned (Appleby, USA Today, 12/20).
- Washington Post: The Post examined experts' concerns about dual eligibles who will begin receiving Medicare drug benefits next year. According to the Post, many dual eligibles are "frail elders, developmentally disabled individuals and nursing home residents," and most live in or near poverty with higher rates of health conditions than other beneficiaries. Some experts worry that these beneficiaries might be switched to an "inferior benefit" and will have to rely on the "goodwill" of pharmacists and physicians to help them navigate the switch in drug coverage, the Post reports (Gearon, Washington Post, 12/20).