Governor Signs Executive Order Extending State ' s Medicare Part D Assistance

From The Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - With problems persisting with the new federal prescription drug benefit, Gov. John Lynch today signed an Executive Order extending the state ' s emergency assistance.

" In the first days after the launch of the new federal prescription drug benefit, it became clear that it was not working for too many New Hampshire citizens, putting their health and lives at risk. Two months later, the problems with the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit continue to persist, " Gov. Lynch said.

" While there have been some improvements, we still see Medicare Part D failing to meet the needs of a steady number of people, and without state action these people may not be able to get their prescription drugs, " Gov. Lynch said. " I am not willing, and I know the legislature is not willing, to allow the health of our citizens to be jeopardized.

Gov. Lynch issued an Executive Order on Jan. 6 and the New Hampshire legislature passed a bill on Jan. 10th to guarantee 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.

Gov. Lynch ' s new Executive Order will be in effect for 21 days, in order to give the legislature time to extend the Medicare Part D law it passed. The original bill provided for up to $500,000 in funding. The state has spent about $130,000 to date.

Since the Executive Order, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to ensure that states get reimbursed for prescription drug costs and administrative costs. The federal government originally said it would be reimburse states through Feb. 15th, and it has since extended that date to March 8.

At the National Governors Association meeting earlier this week, Gov. Lynch pressed U.S. Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt about extending that deadline even further. Leavitt said the federal government would review the issue on a week-by-week basis.

" I appreciate that the federal government has promised to make sure states get reimbursed through at least March 8th. But the federal government needs to go further and guarantee reimbursement until all the problems with the program are resolved, because New Hampshire will not discontinue its emergency assistance until Medicare Part D is working for all of our seniors, " Gov. Lynch said.

A copy of the Executive Order follows.

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Executive Order 2006-2
Continuing Emergency Prescription Drug Relief

WHEREAS, the State of New Hampshire values the public health and welfare of its senior citizens who constitute dually eligible beneficiaries under the Medicare Modernization Act, Part D;

WHEREAS, the systems used by the federal government to process prescription benefits for dually eligible beneficiaries failed during implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act, Part D;

WHEREAS, on January 6, 2006, in immediate response to this failure, Governor John H. Lynch issued Executive Order 2006-1 to provide emergency relief to dually eligible beneficiaries under the Medicare Modernization Act, Part D, pending the enactment of remedial legislation ;

WHEREAS, the New Hampshire General Court acted promptly to pass SB 393-FN-A during an emergency session to provide temporary financial assistance for dually eligible beneficiaries seeking to purchase prescription drugs until March 1, 2006;

WHEREAS, the systems used by the federal government to process prescription benefits for dually eligible beneficiaries continue to fail and have not been repaired adequately;

WHEREAS, many dually eligible beneficiaries in this State have relied on Executive Order 2006-1 and the emergency legislation in order to obtain medications that are necessary for their health, welfare and safety;

WHEREAS, any lapse in the provision of temporary, emergency relief to dually eligible beneficiaries will create a threat to the safety and welfare of the inhabitants of this state and requires a further invocation of Governor Lynch ' s emergency powers pursuant to RSA 4:45;

WHEREAS, this declaration of a state of emergency shall apply throughout the State of New Hampshire and shall be in duration for 21 days to allow a sufficient opportunity for the General Court to enact additional remedial legislation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN H. LYNCH, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, by the authority vested in me by part II, article 41 of the New Hampshire Constitution do hereby order the following:

1. That the commissioner of health and human services shall provide supplemental assistance with the purchase of drugs and other pharmaceutical services, which shall be available to persons who are eligible for benefits under both medicaid and medicare. The supplemental pharmacy assistance shall be designed to provide temporary aid during the period of transition to the new pharmacy benefit under Part D of the federal medicare program; and

2. That the commissioner, to the extent possible, shall seek reimbursement from the medicare preferred drug plans and from medicare, Medicaid or any other federal program for the expenditures incurred in the provision of the supplemental pharmacy assistance. The department of health and human services may seek reimbursement from persons receiving assistance for the costs of the pharmaceutical services to the extent they otherwise would have had to pay if provided benefit under medicare.

Given under my hand and seal at the Executive Chambers in Concord, this 1st day of March, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and six.