OCTOBER 01, 2006

Seniors who received millions of dollars in government refunds for their Medicare Part D prescription drug premiums will not lose their drug coverage as a result of the snafu. In addition, thanks to the efforts of a senior advocacy group, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will no longer be issuing letters requesting that the money be refunded. The Centers' Web site has also been updated, revoking the request.

"It's very important for people to know their coverage is continuing," former CMS Administrator Mark McClellan,MD, PhD, said in a message to quash rumors that prescription benefits will be suspended for those who mistakenly received the refunds. "There's no disruption at all."

Because of a government computer glitch, nearly 230,000 Medicare recipients were sent a total of almost $50 million in refunds for monthly premiums they paid this year for prescription drug coverage. The individual overpayments averaged about $215.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) Inc, which represents the Gray Panthers and the Action Alliance of Senior Citizens, filed a lawsuit against CMS, stating that federal law allows for waiver of recovery when the beneficiary is not at fault in the overpayment. CMS has responded by deleting the request from its Web site and ceasing all mailings seeking refunds of the missent monies. The lawyers for CMA are now trying to get CMS to return any already-repaid refunds and to inform all recipients of their rights under federal law to seek waiver of recovery.

For a related story on the Medicare money mix-up, visit ePharmacy Times at