Fantastic start for the newest entitlement program:
Low-income Medicare beneficiaries around the country were often overcharged, and some were turned away from pharmacies without getting their medications, in the first week of Medicare’s new drug benefit. The problems have prompted emergency action by some states to protect their citizens.
Although there are no hard numbers, concerns expressed by state officials and complaints from pharmacists suggest a widespread pattern of problems.
At least four states – Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Vermont – acted this week to make sure poor people received the drugs they were promised but could not obtain through the federal Medicare program.
Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont, a Republican, said the state would pay drug claims for low-income people until the federal government fixed problems in the new program, known as Part D of Medicare. Michael K. Smith, the state’s secretary of human services, said, “The federal system simply is not working.”
On Thursday, the Vermont Legislature passed a bill declaring, “There is a public health emergency due to the federal implementation of Medicare Part D, which has resulted in serious operational problems, causing Vermonters to be turned away at the pharmacy without the drugs they need.”
I can’t even come up with a snarky comment, although I guess it should be noted that the incompetence of the previous Congress and this administration has succeeded in one area:
Leaving me speechless.