Gov't announces more Medicare safeguards

Source: KEVIN FREKING, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Thursday, December 1, 2005

Two weeks after being sued, the government said Thursday it put in place more safeguards to ensure that poor older people can fill their drug prescriptions on Jan. 1. In recent weeks, the government automatically has enrolled about 6 million people in private plans that will offer a new drug benefit under Medicare. The people in this category are called dual eligibles because they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Even if the government misses enrolling just 1 percent of them, that means about 60,000 people potentially would have no prescription drug coverage come the new year. To address that, federal officials said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has contracted with two companies. When a customer enters a store, pharmacists will check with one contractor – Z-Tech Corp. of Rockville, Md. – to determine the customer’s eligibility for drug coverage. The pharmacists can bill a second contractor, Wellpoint Inc. of Indianapolis, which will enlist the customer in one of its drug plans.