Pennsylvania seniors group file Part D lawsuit

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Two Pennsylvania advocacy groups recently filed a lawsuit that asks the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to block the automatic enrollment of so-called dual eligibles into Medicare prescription drug plans. Their medication coverage is supposed to switch from Medicaid to Medicare on Jan. 1.

The lawsuit, which names CMS Administrator Mark McClellan and HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt as defendants, alleges that the federal government does not have the legal authority to automatically enroll the state's more than 110,000 dual eligibles into Medicare prescription drug plans.

Automatic enrollment of dual eligibles could "unfairly deprive them of access to their medical providers" because the plans could limit members to a network of providers, according to the suit, which was filed on behalf of several Pennsylvania dual eligibles by lawyers for the Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia and the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly.