ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 226

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

212th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 20, 2006

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman HERB CONAWAY, JR.

District 7 (Burlington and Camden)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Memorializes Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries who were formerly automatically enrolled in Medicare Part D receive assistance to enroll for 2007.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Assembly Resolution memorializing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that assistance is provided to certain persons to enroll in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for 2007.

 

Whereas, The federal “Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003” added prescription drug coverage under a new Medicare Part D, and this prescription drug benefit became effective January 1, 2006; and

Whereas, Medicare Part D is a voluntary program that permits Medicare beneficiaries to select and enroll in private prescription drug plans, but last year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) allowed states to automatically enroll in the plans those persons who were eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, known as “dual eligibles,” in order to ensure the continuity of prescription drug coverage to this vulnerable population, many of whom have cognitive or mental impairments; and

Whereas, This year CMS has advised about 632,000 elderly and disabled beneficiaries that they will not be automatically enrolled in the Medicare Part D benefit for 2007; these beneficiaries are still eligible to participate in the benefit, but since these beneficiaries are no longer enrolled in the Medicaid program, these former “dual eligibles” will no longer have access to automatic enrollment and, instead, will need to select and enroll in prescription drug plans on their own; and

Whereas, In order to afford to enroll in the plans, many of these vulnerable beneficiaries will also need to receive a low-income subsidy from the federal government and will need assistance in obtaining the subsidy; and

Whereas, The selection of a Medicare prescription drug plan can be a challenging process because a beneficiary must select a prescription drug plan from among the many plans, which contain different drug formularies and other variations in coverage and cost; in New Jersey it is anticipated that there will be over 55 plans to choose from for 2007; and

Whereas, Advocates are concerned that many of the 632,000 elderly and disabled beneficiaries could fall through the cracks because they would not know that they no longer have coverage for their prescription drugs until they go to their local pharmacies to fill their prescriptions in January 2007; and

Whereas, CMS recognizes that some of these beneficiaries may miss the open enrollment period from November 15 through December 31, 2006 and has granted a three-month extension for these beneficiaries to enroll without a penalty; and

Whereas, The 632,000 vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks and lose prescription drug coverage, even for a few months; CMS must ensure that these beneficiaries receive assistance with enrollment and obtaining federal low-income subsidies, if eligible, so that they are able to continue their prescription drug coverage which is a critical component of their care; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  This House respectfully memorializes the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries, who are no longer eligible for automatic enrollment in prescription drug plans under the Medicare Part D benefit, receive assistance with enrollment and obtaining federal low-income subsidies, if eligible, so that these beneficiaries do not lose prescription drug coverage, even for a few months, or miss the opportunity to obtain low-income subsidies.

 

     2.  Duly authenticated copies of this resolution, signed by the Speaker of the General Assembly and attested by the Clerk of the General Assembly, shall be transmitted to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the presiding officers of the Congress of the United States and each member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, and the Commissioner of Human Services and the Director of the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services in the Department of Human Services.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This resolution respectfully memorializes the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries, who are no longer eligible for automatic enrollment in prescription drug plans under the Medicare Part D benefit, receive assistance with enrollment and obtaining federal low-income subsidies, if eligible, so that these beneficiaries do not lose prescription drug coverage, even for a few months, or miss the opportunity to obtain low-income subsidies.