Problems with Medicare Plan D Cause Headaches in Region 8 - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Brett Garrett Reports

Problems with Medicare Plan D Cause Headaches in Region 8

January 11, 2006 – Posted at 6:12 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR – On January 1st the Medicare Plan D Prescription Drug Benefit went into effect for millions of Americans. But not everyone enrolled in the program is actually showing up in the system. It's a program that millions on fixed incomes depend on every day.

“If I didn't have it I wouldn't be able to get my medicine,” said senior Glenda Trantham. But when the New Year began the much anticipated Medicare Plan D Prescription Drug Benefit program started and yet millions who enrolled aren't on the list.

“They sent me a letter saying I was covered and I came in this morning to get some of my medicine and I am not even on file,” said Trantham, “Signing up 21 million people from November 15th to December 31st isn't feasible, and to promise it to people was stupid.”

As patients who still aren't in the system walk into their local pharmacies they are running into exorbitant costs for drugs that normally run them a couple dollars.

“This drug that I bought in December was $1.73 and today it was $14.54,” said recipient Lora Telley. For elderly patients who have fixed incomes extra costs are bringing a lot of extra stress.

“I have to pay for some of them, I won't be able to pay my bills or I won't be able to pay my pharmacist,” said Joan Russell. Some customers like Russell have to find ways to stretch their money and their medication a little farther now just to keep the lights on.

“What I’ll do is take one day and one the next to make one prescription last 2 months,” said Russell. Still some customers are overwhelmed by the costs and don't have the money to pay for them and local pharmacies like Gibson's pharmacy are having to help out.

“We're having to bend the rules whether it is company rules or pharmaceutical rules to make sure that we get the medicines to the person,” said pharmacist Ken Gibson, “We have taken it on the chin as long as we can as pharmacists but eventually we are going to have to pay someone for that medicine eventually.”

Wednesday's emergency declaration by Governor Huckabee directs the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance to pharmacies, providing Medicare Part D Prescriptions to individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

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