Monday, January 16, 2006

Medicare a mess out of the gate

The Medicare prescription drug plan is two weeks old, and the going has been rocky especially for the nation's sickest and poorest elderly and disabled. The general consensus is the government has botched the start-up of the program. If it could go wrong, it probably has. No one seems to have definitive answers to questions. Patients are being turned away or overcharged at pharmacies. At least 20 states have stepped in to say they will cover the drug costs of low-income people who have been turned away because of federal foul-ups. On Friday, the intervention of the states led the federal government to tell insurers they must provide a 30-day supply of any drug that a beneficiary was previously taking. The government also stressed that poor people may not be charged more than $5 for a covered drug.

Sources: The Washington Post and The New York Times

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