Senator inquires about Part D's treatment of dual eligibles

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A high-ranking U.S. senator expressed concern that some dual-eligible beneficiaries might "get lost" during the Medicare drug program's 2008 open enrollment period, which started Thursday.

In a letter, Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, asked Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Kerry N. Weems how many dual eligibles have had to switch organizations two years in a row. He also inquired as to how many dual Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries might get lost during the transition period this year. Many dual eligibles - those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid - reside in long-term care facilities.

Regarding those dual eligibles who switch plans, Stark asked if CMS is auto-enrolling them in plans at random or in plans that cover the drugs they use. He also asked CMS about its plan to provide emergency prescriptions if dual eligibles experience a gap in coverage or delay in transitions.