Barbour: Prescription Drugs Will Be Covered For Former Medicaid Recipients

Governor Haley Barbour says no Medicaid recipient should be worried about their drug coverage. In 15 days, 65,000 people will be dropped from the Medicaid program.

Changing Medicaid was part of Barbour's plan from the beginning of his campaign. He made no secret he thought the state could save money and streamline the system.

Faced with the reality of the cuts, many people have told us over the past few weeks, most of their anger is focused directly on Haley Barbour.

Jack Reid of Saucier said, "We may as well die and get it over with. If they don't bring this Medicaid back as they should, I'm not going to be the only one they find out in the street dead."

Wanda Teale was even more dramatic, saying, "I know now how people who have been sentenced to die for a crime, I know now how they feel. Is that what you want to be, Mr. Barbour, an executioner? Well, sir, that's what you're being."

Governor Barbour has heard those pleas, and wants to reassure Mississippians that they have nothing to worry about.

"I understand why most people on Medicaid who are older would be concerned of not knowing," Barbour said.

Holding up a stack of papers, he said, "This is a list of more than 1350 prescription drugs that every single person that's being moved from Medicaid to Medicare will be eligible to receive for free, or for no more than 15 dollars a month... As soon as they go off Medicaid."

Barbour sat down with one of his staffers, a Medicaid recipient, and found her drugs would be free. She would have to re-apply for them in a year. He says others will find the same thing.

"We'll look back a year from now and I'm confident we'll say, that was a good thing we did."

Barbour says pharmaceutical companies have programs to give these people the free or cheap drugs. He admits learning how to apply for programs will take effort.

"Working with the pharmacists, they'll know which companies make the drugs and they'll be able to apply."

How can pharmacists get answers?

"If a pharmacist reached out to the pharmacists association, they would find out how to get this information."

For those who are kicked off Medicaid and aren't eligible for Medicare, Barbour has requested waivers to get them back on Medicaid. He says he'll know something in early July but is confident everyone will have good healthcare in the end.

Governor Barbour says you may also call Medicaid with any questions about the policy. Their hotline is 1-800-421-2408.

by Davis Brister