At this post (“No Sugar-Coating, Please: Medicare Part D Is Off to a Poor Start”), on the snafus occurring in the rollout of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, I noted that:
The larger point is that it should not have happened, and that the administration is close to handing its opponents a potent political weapon. Ideally, everyone should shut up on the bigger issues for just a few weeks and concentrate all of their heat on getting those involved to get their act together, and quickly. But in the real world this wonâ€™t happen, and the adminstration had to know that anything less than a smooth transition would bring out the worst in some people and politicians.
Six weeks later, the snafus apparently haven’t stopped:
Problems cited include:
â€¢ Insurers requiring “prior authorization” on some drugs, including those to treat depression, psychosis and convulsions â€” even for patients who have long taken the drugs.
â€¢ Strict dosage or quantity limits on some drugs, sometimes well below what a patient takes.
â€¢ Long delays on calls to insurers to make requests. Then delays of days in getting a response.
….. Of nearly 600 problems reported to the association, the biggest chunk â€” about 44% â€” involved getting patients medications they have been taking. Many also resulted from problems getting prior authorization or from limits on how many pills are allowed.
And the potential for political fallout is now real (though if you read the whole article, it’s clear that Robert Tanner, the AP reporter, is clearly rooting for more trouble than currently exists):
The Medicare program left several governors shaking their heads, though they said efforts to improve it were helping. “Probably the design of the plan could’ve been better,” said Republican Don Carcieri of Rhode Island. Bush has called for steps to limit the confusion. Still, Carcieri was sure voters would forgive …..”
Is the worst over? Let’s hope so, for the sake of patients. If it goes away as an election issue, so much the better.