Medicare Drug Benefit Delays

By: Allison Miller
By: Allison Miller

If patience is a virtue the pharmacists at putnam pharmacy are nearing sainthood.

"We've had instances where we call and the response we get on the phone is "due to the overwhelming number of calls we cannot take your call" and are then hung up on before we even get a chance to talk to anyone" says Putnam Pharmacy manager Randy Berg.

The people the pharmacists are trying to talk to are those administering the new prescription drug plan Medicare Part D, a program more than three years in the making and one that launched, ready or not, January first.

"Patients come to us they haven't received their cards yet they don't know what for sure plan they're on," says Berg. "There are supposed to be systems in place that we can check eligibility that have been thoroughly updated yet and that's where we get into problems."

Medicare Part D was supposed to make dropping off and picking up prescription drugs easier for close to 900 thousand people who qualify in Wisconsin. Instead a program designed to help is creating some major headaches.

"You should hear the tears we get on our help line, it's bad it's really bad," says Paula Gibson with the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups.

She says while some of the glitches were expected those forcing people to pay now or go without are unacceptable.

"We don't know if they're going to be reimbursed for that later on, if they're going to have to eat it or if they're not going to be able to eat this month because that's their grocery money and that's what scares us," says Gibson.

It scares the people at Putnam Pharmacy too, who've gone as far giving people prescriptions without charge, hoping one day to be reimbursed.

In the meantime the pharmacists and customers can only do one thing, be patient.


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