Fixing Medicare snags
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 12:45 a.m.
We are just 25 days into the start-up of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. It is the largest change in Medicare in 40 years, and it is happening all at once with 24 million people now enrolled in all 50 states - 1,821,446 in Florida alone.
For most of them, the system is working. Pharmacists across the country are filling 1 million prescriptions a day, and people who previously had no drug coverage are now saving money.
Despite careful planning, some people are experiencing problems getting their prescriptions filled, especially the first time they go to the pharmacy. We are working with pharmacists, health plans and states to get their prescriptions filled as quickly as possible.
We have backup systems at the pharmacy to help, including a new computer system and a toll-free pharmacy helpline.
Pharmacists can also fill prescriptions for people with Medicare and Medicaid through a default plan at the pharmacy counter.
Finally, if issues cannot be resolved at the counter, the pharmacists or beneficiaries can call1-800-MEDICARE to request a caseworker to help them.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has directed health plans to cover drugs for people needing refills of their prescriptions during the transition to the new benefit. We will also help states, which become payers of last resort, get reimbursed by health plans.
We are working to help every Medicare beneficiary gain access to coverage that will save them money, help them stay healthy, and give them the peace of mind that comes from knowing their savings will never be wiped out by the high cost of medicine.
Regional IV director,
U.S. Department of Health and
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