Assembly Passes Emergency Prescription Drug Legislation

Bill will ensure continued drug coverage for those jeopardized by Bush administration’s failed implementation of Medicare Part D
January 18, 2006

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (Ulster and Dutchess Counties) announced today that the Assembly passed emergency legislation (A.9462) to provide prescription drugs for individuals left without coverage following the federal government’s chaotic implementation of the new Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Medicare Part D).

Assemblymember Cahill, a main sponsor of the legislation, said the following, “I can say without exaggeration that the Bush Administration’s failure to properly implement this program is putting people’s lives in danger. We simply cannot sit by and allow this to happen – the legislation we passed today will ensure those who need medications will get them while Washington gets its act together.”

Some 600,000 seniors and people living with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare Part D automatically stopped receiving Medicaid prescription drug coverage on Jan. 1, 2006, when the program went into effect. As a result, many beneficiaries now find themselves being wrongfully denied access to life-saving prescription drugs because they are unable to come up with the funds necessary to cover the new deductible. Individuals dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare, had the program been properly implemented, are exempt from the required payments.

Under the Assembly’s proposal, the state will immediately pay claims for anyone eligible for the Medicare Part D program that is currently being denied prescription drugs. The state will then seek reimbursement from Washington.

“This program has been a disaster from the time it was conceived right to the crisis point we have reached today where untold numbers of our most vulnerable populations are being forced to go without vital medication for diabetes, heart disease and even cancer,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “I urge the Governor and Senate to work with the Assembly to provide immediate relief to ensure that no one falls through the cracks,” he concluded.