Pharmacists join lawsuit against Medicare Part D

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The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists has joined eight advocacy groups in a lawsuit against Michael Leavitt, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The groups accuse the government of not doing enough to protect dual eligibles from losing their prescription drug coverage when the Medicare Part D benefit goes into effect Jan. 1.

ASCP said it is joining the suit to ensure that dual eligible beneficiaries do not lose access to pharmacies that can provide the medications they require when their coverage switches from Medicaid to Medicare, according to court papers filed Dec. 5.

The ASCP joins such groups as the Medicare Rights Center, New York Statewide Senior Action Council, the Coalition of Voluntary Mental Health Agencies and United Senior Action of Indiana. They filed the suit one day before general enrollment in the prescription began.

About 70% of nursing home residents are considered dual eligibles, or those who receive both Medicaid and Medicare assistance. The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services, which is automatically enrolling dual eligibles in prescription drug plans, has identified 6.1 million dual eligibles. It has assigned 5.5 million of them to plans.

A copy of the brief and declarations on the matter can be found at http://www.medicarerights.org/legalaction.html.