Washington, D.C. –Today, the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) applauds Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Michael Michaud (D-Maine), Todd Platts (R-Pa.), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for becoming cosponsors of the Home and Community Services Copayment Equity Act of 2009 (HR 1407, S 534), bills that would eliminate Medicare Part D drug copayments for low-income seniors in assisted living and residential care settings.
“NCAL thanks the Congressional members for becoming cosponsors on bills that are critically important to assisted living’s low-income, elderly residents,” said David Kyllo, NCAL’s executive director. “Their support of these bills is recognition that the legislation makes good policy sense, because it would assure assisted living residents have continual access to their medications ensuring their quality of life and avoiding more serious and costly health consequences.”
Currently under the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit, dual eligibles—people who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid—that reside in assisted living communities are required to cover their drug copayments. On average, these residents take between eight to ten medications. With Part D drug copayments ranging from one to more than five dollars, these expenses can add up quickly and may exceed the resident’s state monthly personal needs allowance under Medicaid. Without the means to purchase their medications, some residents may decide to forgo the medications thereby putting their quality of life at risk. The legislation will eliminate copayments for about 1 million dual eligibles in assisted living and other home and community based care settings.
When Medicare Part D took effect on Jan. 1, 2006, dual eligible beneficiaries who previously received medications under Medicaid were switched to Medicare Part D. Under Part D, pharmacies and drug plans are not required to dispense medications to a beneficiary if the individual is unable to pay the assigned copayment.
Recently the state of Arizona decided to stop covering Part D co-pays for dual eligibles in assisted living settings because of its budget shortfalls. According to Kyllo, this is even more reason to pass this legislation as quickly as possible to ensure that seniors get the prescriptions they need.
“NCAL believes that lawmakers intended the prescription drug program to offer benefits to all seniors no matter where they lived,” says Kyllo. “We commend the Representatives and the Senator for their leadership and look forward to working with them to get this bill enacted.”
The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) represents more than 2,700 not-for-profit and proprietary assisted living and residential care communities dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of professional compassionate care and services for the elderly and disabled. NCAL is the assisted living voice of the American Health Care Association.