I should have noted yesterday that the federal government has looked at the Medicare law and discovered that, golly, it can legally reimburse states for costs that should have been covered by the Medicare prescription drug plan:
For weeks, federal officials said they did not have authority to reimburse states. On Tuesday, they said they had discovered that they could reimburse the states by conducting a demonstration project under Section 402 of the Social Security Amendments of 1967.
But this is only temporary:
Through Feb. 15, states will be reimbursed for prescription drugs provided to low-income Medicare beneficiaries. The reimbursement program would end Feb. 15 because problems with the new drug program will be corrected by then, federal officials said.
Oh, yeah, I'm sure.
And apparently the plan still requires the states to do the heavy bureaucratic lifting before they get their money back:
Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday outlined a plan that calls for states to first seek reimbursement from the private insurance plans contracted by Medicare to provide drug coverage. Medicare then will help pay for any difference, said Mark McClellan, the CMS director.
And the feds seem to be suggesting that states allow seniors to go without drugs if the kinks aren't worked out by the deadline:
Mark McClellan, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, ... called on the states "to work with us" and stop paying for the drugs by Feb. 15, although certain states may be able to get an extension.
Just certain states?
All heart, the Bushies.