State Officials, Patient Advocates Concerned About Transition To Medicare Drug Benefit
State officials and patient advocates are "worried" about contacting beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare "to alert them to the upcoming change" to their prescription drug benefits on Jan. 1, 2006, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The Department of Health Services is sending letters to nearly one million dual eligibles, stating, "You must belong to a Medicare prescription drug plan to get coverage for your prescriptions. MEDI-CAL WILL NO LONGER COVER YOUR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS."
Medi-Cal Director Stan Rosenstein said, "We're very concerned about confusion." The state will send more letters to the beneficiaries before the change takes effect, he said.
Shelley Rouillard, program director of the Health Rights Hotline, said, "We're really concerned that on Jan. 2, there's going to be a line out the pharmacy door and people wondering why they can't get their prescription drug" (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 10/31).
Several newspapers recently examined issues related to the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Summaries appear below.
Dallas Morning News: The Morning News on Sunday published several articles to help Medicare beneficiaries select from among the 47 prescription drug plans available in Texas. The articles include a chart that details the plans and profiles of Medicare beneficiary households (Moos, Dallas Morning News, 10/30).
Detroit Free Press: The Free Press on Monday examined national and regional Medicare prescription drug plans available to beneficiaries in Michigan and the promotional efforts by plan sponsors (Stringer, Detroit Free Press, 10/31).
Los Angeles Times: The Times on Monday examined details of some of the 60 Medicare prescription drug plans available in California and offered advice to help beneficiaries select among the plans (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 10/31).
Long Island Newsday: Newsday on Saturday examined the confusion of Medicare beneficiaries over the prescription drug benefit and offered advice for those who have not decided whether to end participation in the New York Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program in favor of the prescription drug benefit (Friedman, Long Island Newsday, 10/29).
Orlando Sentinel: The Sentinel on Sunday examined how some low-income Medicare beneficiaries will not qualify for additional financial assistance under the new prescription benefit because they hold assets that exceed eligibility limits (Shelton, Orlando Sentinel, 10/30).
Raleigh News & Observer: The News & Observer on Sunday examined how some employers that provide prescription drug coverage to retirees will discontinue the benefits on Jan. 1, when the new Medicare prescription drug benefit begins (Fisher, Raleigh News & Observer, 10/30).
St. Petersburg Times: The Times on Sunday published a series of articles that examines a number of issues related to the Medicare prescription drug benefit and offers advice to help beneficiaries select a plan. The articles examined asset divestiture to qualify for financial assistance, the elimination of many pharmaceutical company prescription drug discount programs, Medicare Advantage and the long-term costs of the 2003 Medicare law (St. Petersburg Times, 10/30).
- Washington Post: The Post Federal Diary section on Monday reported that the Office of Personnel Management has decided not to apply for a subsidy to encourage employers to continue to provide prescription drug coverage to retirees after the Medicare prescription drug benefit begins, a move that prompted critics to raise concerns about increased out-of-pocket costs for federal employees and retirees (Barr, Washington Post, 10/31).