Thursday, April 19, 2018
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Drug plan glitches leave some recipients caught in the middle

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Pharmacists across the country are frustrated by glitches in the new Medicare drug benefit plan, particularly in cases where patients are eligible for both the drug plan and for Medicaid because of their low income level. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

St. Paul, Minn. — Some poor Minnesotans are unable to fill their prescriptions because of startup glitches in the new Medicare Part D program.

The problem is most common among people who should be eligible for both Medicare drug benefits and Medicaid services because of their low income level. A central Medicare computer system won't confirm for pharmacists that many of these patients qualify for nearly free medications.

In some cases, the problems mean pharmacists charge poor patients the full cost of their medications.

Pharmacist Dan Moudry gets half his business from poor and elderly Medicare recipients. He runs Moudry's Apothecary Shop in St. Paul's Central Medical building.

He spends a lot of his time on the phone these days, trying to get in touch with the companies administering the drug program for his clients. Moudry talked to MPR's Tom Crann about the frustrations of wading through the new system.

Medicare officials say that the glitches should be resolved shortly. Bob Herzkovitz, a Midwest spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Tom Crann it appears the problem with dual eligibility is relatively limited, "but that doesn't mean it's something we don't have to take care of."

Herzkovitz says pharmacists who are paying out-of-pocket to help their patients should follow his agency's guidelines to be reimbursed for those expenses.

To listen to the interviews, choose the audio links in the right column.