Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2241
By: Menendez
Public Health


While prescription drug prices are rising, Medicare does not cover
outpatient prescriptions.  This forces some seniors to neglect or share
prescriptions or skip doses which endangers their health.  Those over 65
years of age are significantly more likely to be regular users of
prescription drugs and to have numerous prescriptions in their medicine
cabinets.  At the same time, they are less likely to have prescription drug
coverage and more likely to have a problem paying for prescription drugs.
The Medicaid Vendor Drug Program provides prescription drugs to Medicaid
recipients statewide through contracts with about 3,800 pharmacies which
are mostly retail stores.  Medicaid allows some seniors to receive three
prescriptions through a Medicare cost-sharing program.  In many cases, this
is not sufficient for proper treatment of a serious illness. Several states
have recognized this problem and implemented prescription drug programs to
assist the elderly and the seriously ill.  House Bill 2241 creates a
prescription drug program for certain Medicare recipients.  


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Health and Human Services
Commission in SECTION 1 (Sections 531.302, 531.304 and 531.305, Government
Code) of this bill. 


House Bill 2241 amends the Government Code to require the Health and Human
Services Commission (HHSC) to develop and implement a state prescription
drug program (program) that operates in the same manner as the vendor drug
program in providing prescription drug benefits to recipients of medical
assistance.  The bill provides that a person is eligible to receive
prescription drug benefits (benefits) if the person is a qualified Medicare
beneficiary or a specified low-income Medicare beneficiary who is eligible
for Medicare cost-sharing payments through Medicaid.  The bill provides
that prescription drugs under the state program may be funded only with
state money unless block grant funds are available under federal law to
fund all or part of the program.  The bill requires HHSC to adopt rules
necessary for the implementation of the program.  The bill prohibits HHSC
from requiring a person who is eligible for benefits to pay a premium, a
deductible, or another cost-sharing payment.  The bill authorizes the
commission to provide in it rules for the program for the prescription of
generic equivalents of a prescribed drug.  The bill requires HHSC to modify
by rule the program to comply with federal law for receiving federal block
grant funds.  The bill requires HHSC to develop and implement the program
by January 1, 2002. 


September 1, 2001.