AK House Majority
The 26th Alaska State Legislature, 2009 - 2010  
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 284

Pioneers Home Rx Drug Benefit

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Ak Majority Organization
Ak Majority Organization

An Act requiring the Department of Health and Social Services to accept federal prescription drug benefits or to provide comparable benefits for residents of the Alaska Pioneers' Home, including residents eligible for discount or free benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Indian Health Service of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Posted: February 1, 2010 : v26-LS1219\R
Bill Version: SSHB 284
Status: (H) STA : 2010-03-17

In April of this past year, Veterans residing at Pioneer Homes across Alaska were caught in the middle of a bureaucratic dispute. Officials at the Pioneer Homes could not accept prescription drugs from the Veterans Administration because of safety concerns with how those drugs were delivered. The VA refused to change how they sent drugs to the Pioneer Homes to satisfy the concerns the officials there had. Veterans who were unable to self-administer drugs had to pay the Pioneer Homes' pharmacy out-of-pocket for drugs they needed, prescriptions that they would otherwise receive for free from the VA.

A joint effort between the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, local public veterans' advocates and the two of us appear to have fixed the problem at the policy level with the Dept. of HSS. State administrators found a solution to safely administer prescription drugs from the VA and veterans began to receive their free drugs once again.

House Bill 284 would stop this from happening again. Administrators could only prevent residents from receiving Federal prescription drug benefits if there was a safety concern. If they did prevent residents from receiving those drug benefits, the Pioneer Homes would step in to cover the value of the denied benefit.

This bill would protect not only Veteran residents, but all Pioneer Home residents receiving Federal prescription drug benefits, including benefits from Indian Health Services. The Pioneer Homes have always worked with residents eligible for IHS benefits to receive their prescription drugs. However, if something changes in the future with the distribution of IHS drugs, the Homes could stop accepting them but would need to cover the cost to affected residents.

With the passage of House Bill 284 veterans and other groups who have earned Federal drug benefits will no longer have to worry about not receiving their much needed prescription medications because bureaucrats are unable reach, what should be, a simple agreement.

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