Senior citizens have trouble getting prescriptions filled - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Senior citizens have trouble getting prescriptions filled

January 19, 2006

 Albany - Many South Georgia seniors are still having trouble getting the medicine they need because of problems with Medicare's new prescription plan.

Evelyn Wooten has had seizures since she was two years old and takes 12 different prescriptions.

"For my epilepsy, for my depression, for my arthritis," she says.

Since the first of the year, she's had problems getting these necessary prescriptions filled, and she signed up for the new Medicare program November 29th.

"This paperwork was proof that I'd signed up. I received that last month stating that I could get my medicines," says Wooten.

The new plan, however, requires Wooten to pay a $250.00 deductible that she didn't pay before, and when she tried to fill her prescriptions she had trouble.

"The Medicare Part D program had not actually gotten to the point where we could fill prescriptions. The numbers were not being assigned, the program was actually not functional as of the first of January," says pharmacist David Hays.

Even though Wooten was signed up, the system wasn't showing that. Hays pharmacy gave her several hundred dollars worth of her prescriptions, but pharmacists say that can't continue.

"I have to pay my bills daily and weekly and trying to wait six to eight weeks to get paid for the medication I dispensed is going to be hard and I am a very profitable pharmacy, or excuse me I was," Hays says.

The Georgia Pharmacy Association asked the state for help, but the state doesn't see a problem. The Governor's office wrote a letter stating "Georgia is not spending state money to cover drug costs stemming from problems or confusion with the Medicare prescription drug effort," and "The state has not seen any notable problems."

 Evelyn Wooten doesn't agree. She was finally able to find a different pharmacy and a different drug plan, but that pharmacy doesn't deliver like Hays and she doesn't drive. "It is not worth it, what is going on with this government, I know, no one's perfect, but honestly this is such a big mix-up," she says.

Pharmacists say they're just as frustrated as their patients. A lot of the plans don't reimburse pharmacists enough to make a profit, and it's the same for all from the large chains to independent stores.

The Georgia Pharmacy Association says many states have executed executive orders to keep Medicaid programs running to cover patients while problems are worked out.

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