Earlier this year, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) demanded that the State take action to keep prescription drugs affordable for low-income seniors during the transfer to the Medicare Part D program.
Today, Senator Hassell-Thompson announced the passage of a bill to achieve this by providing emergency drug coverage to seniors enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare until problems with the new program are resolved.
"We all support efforts to provide seniors with lower-priced prescription medications, but Medicare Part D wrongfully denies coverage to many New Yorkers. That means countless individuals are spending too much money to get the prescription drugs they need to live healthy lives," Senator Hassell-Thompson said.
The federal legislation that enacted Medicare Part D was signed into law in December 2003, and went into effect January 1 of this year.
"Seniors cannot get their prescriptions filled without paying increasingly large sums of money. This constitutes a public health emergency. I thank the Legislature for closing this loophole," Senator Hassell-Thompson said.
The bill, passed by both the State Senate and Assembly, states that Medicaid drug coverage will continue to be provided to low-income seniors who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.
The law would remain in effect until the state health commissioner determines that operational problems in the Medicare Part D program have been corrected. The Commissioner will seek reimbursement from Medicare Part D for any funds spent covering New Yorkers during this time.
"This program has been a disaster to administer. It's confusing for seniors, and some would say provides too many giveaways to drug companies," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "That’s why I demanded that the Legislature step in to protect New York’s seniors."
Senator Hassell-Thompson also noted that her office has a brochure on the new Medicare Part D Program. To order a copy please call 718-547-8854.