A perspective article by Stephen Soumerai, professor in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), suggests that the new Medicare Drug Benefit may be harmful to the health of the poor, elderly, and disabled, the so-called "dually eligible" beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. This article appears in the Dec. 29 New England Journal of Medicine, and was lead by Rachel Elliott, a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow at DACP.
The short time frame that dually eligible beneficiaries, currently about 7.2 million people, were given to choose and transition to a new drug formulary--only six weeks--raises several concerns, Soumerai writes. This includes the risk that beneficiaries may have difficulty transitioning and navigating the complex system.
"This group of dually eligible beneficiaries are especially challenging to reach and educate about coverage changes," Soumerai writes. He suggests that the transition period should be extended to at least one year, creating a longer "crossover" period where beneficiaries can continue to obtain medication through Medicaid.
John Lacey | EurekAlert!
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