New Hampshire Will Seek to Extend Efforts To Help Citizens with Implementation of Federal Prescription Drug Benefit

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - In light of continuing problems seniors are facing trying to get prescriptions filled through the new federal prescription drug plan, Gov. John Lynch said today that New Hampshire would seek to extend its emergency assistance.

In early January, Gov. Lynch issued an Executive Order and the Legislature passed an emergency bill to provide state funding for an emergency back-up system to ensure that New Hampshire citizens could still get their prescription drugs, despite the problems with the implementation of the new federal prescription drug program. The state is guaranteeing prescription drug coverage for people known as "dual eligibles," people who were receiving prescription drug coverage through the state until the launch of Medicare Part D on Jan. 1.

At the end of January, the federal government would ensure that states were reimbursed for their costs but only through February 15th.

"We are still seeing every day New Hampshire citizens who would go without the prescription drugs that they need if our state hadn't acted to protect them. It seems clear that the problems with the federal program are not going to go away by next week. New Hampshire is not going to stop protecting the health of its citizens based on an arbitrary federal deadline," Gov. Lynch said.

Gov. Lynch said the Department of Health and Human Services would seek an extension from the federal government to ensure that the state will still get reimbursed after Feb. 15.

"This is a federal program, and the federal government should continue to guarantee reimbursements until they can prove that everyone who is eligible can actually get their prescriptions when they need them," Gov. Lynch said.

In addition, HHS Commissioner John Stephen has contacted the legislature asking it to extend the emergency legislation it passed to allow the state to continue guaranteeing prescription drug coverage through June 30.

"Both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature have been committed to making sure New Hampshire citizens can still get their medication, and I look forward to working with them to continue our efforts," Gov. Lynch said.