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Senate to continue assistance with Medicare program

The California State Senate has agreed to keep providing assistance to low-income residents who are having trouble with the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Assembly is expected to follow suit. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

Since the new Medicare program began January 1st, the state of California has paid for more than 245,000 prescriptions it wasn't supposed to cover.

The pending legislation would extend such drug assistance for up to 90 days.

Some one-million Medi-Cal recipients were supposed to be automatically enrolled in one of the new Medicare drug plans. But enrollment and other administrative hassles have forced many patients to go without their medications.

As a result, California has stepped in to help. The federal government says it will reimburse the state.

In the meantime, some lawmakers complain the new Medicare program is flawed and needs a major overhaul. Medicare officials disagree, and say they're working to fix any problems. Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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