Senator Saland Overrides Veto To Provide Prescription Drug Safety Net

Stephen M. Saland

February 09, 2006

Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that he joined his colleagues in the New York Senate to override the Governor’s veto of bill (S. 6410) that would provide a critically important safety net for senior citizens who receive Medicare benefits. The Senator said that he participated in the veto override because he was concerned about its potential impact on the region’s most vulnerable citizens.

"No senior should ever have to wonder whether they will be denied coverage for a critical prescription because their name may have been lost during the recent changes to the Medicare program," Senator Saland said. "The legislation that I sponsored will ensure that those individuals who are eligible for Medicaid coverage for prescription drugs will continue to receive their benefits until problems with the federal program are resolved."

On January 1, 2006, the federal government instituted a new program, Medicare Part D, designed to help senior citizens and adults with disabilities access affordable prescription drugs. Previously, Medicare did not cover the cost of prescription drugs. Many low-income seniors and adults with disabilities were afforded prescription drug coverage through Medicaid. The federal government was supposed to transfer these "dual eligible" individuals from the old Medicaid program to the new Medicare Part D program.

Unfortunately, after January 1, 2006, many seniors and adults with disabilities found that their information had not been properly transferred and, as a result, experienced problems getting their prescriptions filled.

Senator Saland responded to this challenge by sponsoring legislation to provide temporary prescription drug coverage under Medicaid for elderly and disabled individuals who are wrongfully being denied access to prescription drug coverage. With the successful override, the legislation provides that coverage for prescription drugs will continue to be provided until the Commissioner of Health declares that all operational problems association with the implementation of the Medicare Part D program have been resolved.