Democrats urge CMS to pay states for Part D costs

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House and Senate Democrats are pressuring Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt to reimburse states for Medicare Part D costs. Forty-six states temporarily covered prescription drug costs for dual eligibles during the start-up of the program.

Providers' interest in this subject is twofold: The majority of nursing home residents are dual eligibles, and the Medicaid program pays for most nursing home care.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid assured states back in January that it was planning to pay them back. But in two letters to the HHS head, lawmakers point out that no state has been paid to date.

"When millions of beneficiaries were leaving the pharmacies empty-handed in the first weeks of this program, state governments had no choice but to step in," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). "Our states bailed the federal government out of a hundred million dollar problem, and our taxpayers deserve to be paid back."