Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Democratic Senators to Propose Emergency Legislation to Ease New Medicare Woes

With the sudden failure of the federal government to enroll more than one million eligible seniors in the new Medicare drug plan, Democratic Senators will announce emergency legislation to reimburse states that have paid millions of dollars in emergency aid for prescriptions for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

States have been forced to take rapid steps to fund stop-gap measures so that elderly citizens would not have dangerous delays in obtaining required medications.

The legislation will require the federal government to reimburse the states and require that reimbursements cover 100 percent of all costs plus interest. It also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to recover overpayments to private prescription drug plans and return that money to the Medicare Trust Fund.

Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) will formally announce the legislation on January 19.

"While states are bailing out the Bush Administration for these failures, they shouldn't have to wonder whether they will get repaid. The states must be repaid -- with appropriate interest," said Lautenberg. "The Medicare drug plan has already caused enough confusion, and the mishandling of low-income and disabled people is not only incompetent, but cruel."