Groups fear gaps during drug plan switch

Nov. 18, 2005 at 4:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Advocacy groups for low-income older U.S. adults fear the transition from Medicaid to the new Medicare drug program will leave many without medications.

More than 6.4 million elderly adults whose drug costs are covered by Medicaid, will get their drugs through Medicare, beginning Jan. 1.

These "dual-eligibles" were sent letters in October telling them they would automatically be enrolled in a drug program if they did not pick a plan themselves by Dec. 31, reported The Washington Post Friday.

Eight nonprofit groups have filed a lawsuit against the federal government because they say that some of the elderly could lose access to drugs for several weeks during the switch to different programs.

"The data exchanges will have inevitable breakdowns. And given the poverty, age and disability of these folks, they will largely be unable to immediately navigate a whole new system," said Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, one of the plaintiffs.

Medicare officials said precautions have been made to ensure there are no gaps in medication coverage.

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