February 21, 2002
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 2:25 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Medicare beneficiaries who are chronically ill with diseases like coronary heart disease and diabetes will soon be able to take part in a project that gives them some prescription drug coverage and coordinates their care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said Thursday it was launching a three-year project for disease management of the chronically ill.
Beginning Friday, the agency will solicit proposals for disease management projects for Medicare beneficiaries with advanced-stage congestive heart failure, diabetes, or coronary heart disease.
``This demonstration can help us learn how well these programs work and how best to make these services available to Medicare beneficiaries,'' Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said.
The goal is to give patients coordinated care rather than fragmented and costly services from multiple providers at multiple sites.
Here's how it will work: Disease management organizations will be paid a monthly premium by the government for the cost of prescription drugs and care for the patients. Patients won't have to change doctors if they don't want to, but there will likely be a modest copay for prescription drugs.
Medicare does not have a prescription drug benefit, and many of the chronically ill often get sicker because they can't afford their medicines, officials said.
``Coordinating their care and enabling patients to work with their doctors orders and monitor their medication will mean better health and fuller lives for Medicare patients and a more efficient Medicare program,'' said Medicare administrator Tom Scully.
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