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Bush Administration Settles Nationwide Class Action in Medicare Prescription Drug Case
Date:6/19/2008

Federal Agency Agrees to Additional Protections for Poor Beneficiaries

SAN FRANCISCO, June 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Pursuant to a settlement agreement filed in federal court today in the Medicare Part D class action lawsuit Situ v. Leavitt, the Bush administration has agreed to make significant changes to its administration of the prescription drug benefit for low-income beneficiaries. If approved by the judge, the agreement will make it easier for seniors and individuals with disabilities to access the full benefits of the Medicare Part D program and the Low Income Subsidy.

The case was filed against Michael Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, by the National Senior Citizens Law Center and the Center for Medicare Advocacy in April 2006 and was certified as a nationwide class action in January 2007. Pro bono counsel from the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati later joined the plaintiff team. Plaintiffs argued that the Bush Administration failed to provide sufficient protections for low- income senior citizens and persons with disabilities in developing the Medicare Part D enrollment and low income subsidy deeming system.

The case was brought on behalf of 6.2 million low-income "dual eligible" Medicare beneficiaries, who also receive Medicaid. Dually eligible beneficiaries are elderly and/or disabled and very poor. The settlement addresses chronic problems related to information management in the Medicare Part D program. Plaintiffs argued that poor management created ongoing barriers for low-income people struggling to obtain prescription medications. Dual eligibles rely on an average of ten more prescriptions per month than other Medicare beneficiaries. These beneficiaries receive a Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), which entitles them to purchase prescription medication for a nominal charge, and are automatically enrolled into a Part D plan.

"This settlement agreement is a victory for many of our nation's
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SOURCE National Senior Citizens Law Center
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