Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Hawaii's Dept. of Human Services cheats seniors and low income residents out of prescription drug benefits

A law called Hawaii Rx Plus that became effective in July 2004 was supposed to require the state to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. Unfortunately, the Lingle administration and Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller have circumvented the law and the intent of the legislature.

Between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005 Hawaii was to have collaborated with other states to negotiate bulk purchase discounts estimated at 15-60% off retail prices. Koller told a legislative briefing held at the request of consumer advocacy groups that she is allowed to ignore that provision of the law because it is worded "may" instead of "shall."

Hawaii Rx Plus not only was intended to benefit seniors who have used up their Medicare Part D benefits (the so-called "doughnut hole" effect) but would apply to uninsured and underinsured residents of any age with incomes below 350% of the federal poverty level.

Scrooge has only resentment for the poor, thinking many would be better off dead
Ebenezer Scrooge entry in the Wikipedia
This refusal to negotiate with drug companies as the legislature intended is reminiscent of Lingle's early veto of social service bills, including services for the blind, and her withholding of funds for extended periods of time for a number of badly needed programs.

The only beneficiaries when the state won't negotiate are the big drug companies. The losers are those who will need to choose between medications and food or shelter. There's no excuse for the administration's bucking the legislature and denying this important benefit.

For now, concerned citizens might call the governor's office at 586-0034. In January, please support whatever new legislation it takes to be sure that Lillian Koller and DHS will (not "may") implement Hawaii Rx as the people and the legislature intended.


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