I just saw this article and thought y'all might like to see it. I am switching my Rx for Klonopin (clonazepam) to COSTCO where it is less than half what Albertson's charges. Love, Mikie US prescription plan won't cover 'benzos' Advocates worry patients risk losing a class of drugs By Associated Press | June 28, 2005 WASHINGTON -- When the new federal prescription drug benefit kicks in next year, it will not cover a category of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. People on Medicare who take Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and other types of the drug benzodiazepine will have to look elsewhere for coverage or switch to a different medication. That may not be easy for the 1.7 million low-income, elderly people who take the drug and will be automatically enrolled in the new prescription drug plan. They will depend on the states to continue paying for their benzodiazepines -- 'benzos" -- on Jan. 1, but with no guarantee. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently urged state Medicaid directors to provide coverage for the 6.3 million people who are 'dual eligible" for prescription aid under the Medicaid and Medicare programs. If states agree, they will continue to get federal matching funds when they pay for benzos. But concerns remain about what would happen if some states opt to save money by excluding benzos from their Medicaid program for the poor. 'Stopping the therapy abruptly can lead to seizures and dangerous, life-threatening problems," said Thomas Clark, of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. The American Medical Association took note of those risks when it pledged to 'work to end the exclusion of medications of the benzodiazepine class from [federal] reimbursement." When Congress approved the Medicare Modernization Act two years ago, it specifically excluded several categories of drugs, including drugs to promote weight loss and fertility, agents for cosmetic purposes, and benzos. Basically, Congress excluded all drugs that states were entitled to omit from their Medicaid programs. All states provide some coverage for benzos, though they don't have to. Last year, they spent $57 million on that category of drugs for the dual-eligible. Elderly people who don't qualify for Medicaid will have to pay for the drugs on their own as they do now, find a replacement that is part of the new Medicare benefit, or pay higher premiums for additional prescription coverage. In 2004, the entire benzodiazepine class accounted for about $702.8 million in sales in the United States, according to IMS Health, a leading consultant to pharmaceutical companies. The 75.6 million prescriptions that year made it the 11th-largest therapeutic class based on total dispensed prescriptions. The Medicare Rights Center, an advocacy group, is asking Congress to amend the act to provide coverage or for Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to intervene administratively. Aides to Leavitt say he lacks the authority to do that. The group said the exclusion could be harmful for patients if it resulted in 'rapid, unphased medication changes." 'The benzodiazapine exclusion raises serious concerns that people with Medicare who sign up for Part D plans will receive inappropriate care for conditions that are common in older and disabled adults," the group said.