Millman and Assembly Pass Legislation to Avert Prescription Drug Coverage Crisis

January 20, 2006
Brooklyn, N.Y. – On January 18, 2006 the State Assembly passed emergency legislation responding to the crisis created by the newly implemented federal Medicare prescription drug program (Part D), which could result in up to 600,000 low-income elderly and disabled New Yorkers being wrongfully denied access to life-saving prescription drugs.

“The net result of this federal blunder is the wrongful denial of essential prescription drugs to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Assemblywoman Millman. “This emergency legislation ensures continued prescription drug access for individuals whose drugs had been covered by Medicaid until this public health mess is resolved by those responsible in Washington, D.C. While this nationwide crisis was caused by the misguided and overly complex federal prescription drug plan, it is our responsibility to make sure that New Yorkers have access to the medicines they need.”

The problem arose when seniors and disabled individuals who had formerly received their prescription coverage through Medicaid were now required to receive their prescriptions through Medicare Part D. Individuals who did not sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan were to be automatically enrolled in a plan.

However, Assemblywoman Joan Millman noted, the transition has been chaotic. Plan providers were not notified of their new enrollees, and enrollees were not being provided with proof of coverage. Many of those who were automatically enrolled into a plan have found the assigned plans to be too expensive or they do not cover their specific prescription needs. Moreover, at least 10,000 New Yorkers eligible for the new prescription plan conversion were never assigned a plan.