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Pharmacies to be reimbursed for covering prescription costs

LAWRENCEVILLE - The state will reimburse Georgia pharmacies that covered costs of prescription drugs for poor and disabled patients bewildered by Medicare and Medicaid changes.

The decision, announced by Gov. Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, was prompted by problems issuing prescription drugs to dual-eligible Medicare and Medicaid patients who were not enrolled correctly in the plans - or in some cases not enrolled at all.

The confusion spurred a letter Jan. 12 from the Georgia Pharmacy Association, saying many patients that were supposed to be enrolled in the Medicare Part D plan had trouble getting their medicine.

"In some instances, this disruption in therapy could potentially trigger significant adverse health results," the letter said.

In a prepared statement Wednesday, Perdue said, "the state has followed the Medicare Part D implementation very closely over the last several weeks, and my primary concern is that Georgians get the prescription medications they need. We have repeatedly requested that the federal government reimburse the state for the cost of helping pharmacies provide temporary prescription drug coverage for low-income and disabled Georgians. Today the federal government has approved our request."

Perdue said $6.6 million will be allocated for temporary assistance to pharmacies, and the amount will be fully reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Perdue's plan is effective until Feb. 15.

"I think this is good," said Buddy Harden, executive vice president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association. "It's exactly what we requested earlier, and we are happy (Perdue) has seen fit to do it."

Several other states have taken action to temporarily cover some Medicare and Medicaid recipients whose coverage was disrupted following changes to U.S. drug benefit programs.

Medicaid Part D coverage is now administered by private insurance plans, which were overwhelmed by the magnitude of enrollment.