Washington state will get a $14 million Medicare credit from the federal government because the cost of prescription drugs has dropped, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt announced during a weekend visit to the state.
After Leavitt met with Gov. Chris Gregoire, the governor announced that the state would allocate the $14 million to cover co-payments for the state's poorest residents in the new Medicare prescription drug plan.
Under the plan that began Jan. 1, Medicare beneficiaries — the elderly and the disabled — may enroll in private plans that will pay part of the cost of their prescription drugs with government subsidies.
In Washington, about 96,000 Medicare people whose prescriptions were previously paid in full by Medicaid now face co-payments of $1 to $5 per prescription refill for the first time. Many of them say they are being denied coverage or are being overcharged when there is confusion over eligibility.