Woman With Dementia Still in Jail; Bill Would Prevent Mid-Year Drug Plan Changes

Escalating drug prices continue to be the biggest source of complaints by health care consumers.  This country does not have the ability like others with national health plans to more strictly control or negotiate drug prices so we have seen prices skyrocket this year.  Insurance companies are trying to control the costs which they have not been able to predict very well, resulting in big impacts on their bottom line.  These increases have  also can caused trouble for people with serious illnesses.

The Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) is concerned about changes in drug plan formularies which can occur in the middle of a plan year after subscribers have been locked into the plan.  The coalition will be supporting legislation sponsored by Senator Jack Martins and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes that would restrict the changes.  The coalition says their bill A.7707/S.538 would prevent health plans from removing a drug from a formulary in the middle of the year, or moving it to a higher co-pay tier or imposing new utilization management restrictions.  The ill provides an exemption if a generic drug of similar quality is added to the formulary during the year.

While this bill makes sense we must continue to challenge the high drug prices which I have noted before are no longer based on research and development costs but on what companies can get away with.  Why would they sharply increase prices for old drugs which they developed years ago?


The older woman with dementia I have mentioned on two occasions who was in the Albany County jail remains there as Thanksgiving approaches and it’s been close to two months for her.  Everyone says it is because they don’t have a place that will take her since she can’t live alone.   The county could have put her in the county nursing home at least temporarily.  What does that say about our health care system and about a person’s human rights?  What it says is, “We failed,  this is the best we can do for a  person  whose dementia caused her to commit a non-violent crime– jail.”

Whenever I speak to people at the county or state level they talk about rules and regulations and impediments about why she hasn’t gotten out of jail.   No one has accepted responsibility to look after her best interests, help her family and get her out.  No case management and lot of passing the buck.   All the talk of care coordination and breaking down silos in government is just talk if a case like this can’t be handled better.

Hopefully she will be placed somewhere in a memory unit soon just as she should have been weeks ago.  That won’t be the end of the story though.   A big review of this case is needed along with changes in how our agencies respond.





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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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