Number of dual eligibles facing Part D problems drops, HHS secretary says

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Fewer dual eligible Medicare beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the new prescription drug benefit, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services said this week.

Only 3% to 5% of dual eligibles are encountering access difficulties compared to 10% previously, Mike Leavitt said. Dual eligibles are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid because of their age and financial situation. Since the benefit began in January, incorrect enrollment information in computer databases and other issues have contributed to access challenges. An overwhelming percentage of nursing home residents fall into the dual eligible category.

Leavitt said the program's problems still unduly burden this population. The start-up problems are typical of a system overhaul, he said. But the new system is improving every day, he added.