Drug access problems could continue in California, governor fears

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California's governor wants the federal government to extend its reimbursement for the state's dual eligible drug costs until at least April 16 due to nagging access problems.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is concerned that access issues related to the Medicare Part D drug program will continue beyond the cutoff date of April 1. This date marks the last day the government plans to help states with the emergency transition for Medicare Part D. California has almost 1 million of the nation's 6.2 million dual eligibles, those people who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.

A study supports the governor's concerns. Conducted by Avalere Health, the study found that beneficiaries who were auto-enrolled in the 10 Medicare drug plans accepting dual eligibles often had access to fewer prescription drugs and faced greater preauthorization requirements than previously. Prior to the drug benefit, California's dual eligibles received coverage from Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.