To protect the health care of thousands of seniors, Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) voted to override Governor George E. Pataki’s veto of legislation that will provide prescription coverage for New York’s most vulnerable.The veto override will protect the prescription drug benefits of eligible New York residents while problems with Medicare Part D are addressed.
In January, Senator Flanagan sponsored the original legislation to help thousands of low-income seniors and disabled residents that are dually eligible for prescription drug coverage under both Medicare and Medicaid. While their prescription needs should have been paid by the newly implemented federal program, there have been issues with its implementation. The legislation was unanimously approved in January but recently vetoed by the governor.
By voting to override the veto, Senator Flanagan has sought to provide a safety net for New York’s most vulnerable by requiring that New York’s Medicaid program continue to pay for the prescriptions drugs of Medicare Part D beneficiaries. The emergency coverage would continue until the Commissioner of Health declares that operational problems associated with Medicare Part D have been resolved and that emergency coverage is unnecessary.
The legislation also requires the establishment of an administrative process to effectively implement the temporary changes and the assurance that the assistance would be accomplished with no additional cost to local governments. As part of the legislation, the state will seek reimbursement from the federal government for any state funds used for this emergency coverage.
Some estimates have stated that as many as 600,000 seniors may have been incorrectly denied coverage due to the implementation of Medicare Part D. According to the New York Medicare Rights Center, hotline calls have increased by 400 percent over the last year and 3,000 have yet to be handled.
"The problems associated with Medicare Part D should have no effect on the prescription needs of our seniors. They do not have the luxury of waiting for the implementation and they do not have the opportunity to wait for the federal government to fix the problems. They need help now and they need their prescription drugs," stated Senator Flanagan. "This veto override will enable our seniors to get the health care they deserve without delay."
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