The Department of Human Resources has announced new eligibility levels for Medicaid clients. Persons with incomes higher than the maximum set for public assistance clients, but lower than the maximum set for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) clients, can now receive Medicaid under the medical needy program.
The new levels were established after SSI payments increased July 1. More than 600 households have applied for the program since then, DHR officials said. Cases previously denied because of ineligible income levels are being reexamined under the new guidelines.
The new eligibility requirements limit a one-person household to a maximum income of about $2,300 annually, two-person households to a maximum income of about $3,500 annually, three-person households to an income of about $3,700 annually, and four-person households to an income of about $3,900 annually.
Households with incomes above the maximum levels are eligible for assistance if medical expenses reduce the total figure to the eligible income level.
Other announcements at the weekly DHR press conference included plans to publish a drug formulary, a briefing of agency efforts to make more businesses physcially accessible to the elderly and handicapped and the proposed recertification of 100 beds at D.C. Village, the city's senior citizens home in Southeast.
The drug formulary, to be published in 1979, will catalog 400 of the most commonly used prescription drugs in Washington. The register was established from a listing of 940 drugs and is being prepared by a DHR-established committee under the city Drug Information Act. Members of the committee, organized in January, include representatives from DHR, D.C. medical societies, universities and pharmacies. Pharmacists will be required to post in a prominent location a list of the 100 most commonly used drugs in their pharmacies, along with the lowest available price of those drugs.
"When a doctor writes a brand name drug on the prescription, the pharmacist, by law, must make available to the patient the lowest cost equivalent drug on the list," explained Dr. William J. Washington, assistant to be DHR director of health affairs.
Washington said brand name prescriptions will be filled only on the physician's written orders.
The department also said it has intensified its efforts to monitor federally funded businesses required to renovate their facilities to accommodate the handicapped. Under the Tax Reform Act of 1976, businesses that receive at least $2,500 in federal funds must make their facilities more accessible to the elderly and handicapped and can deduct up to $25,000 of the work completed before Jan. 1, 1980.
Vernon Hawkins, director of the DHR, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, said DHR officials met recently with the Washington Board of Trade to encourage enforcement of the law Hawkins estimated that approximately 300 contractors or subcontractors receive federal funds. He said there were no figures as to how many of these contractors might be violating the law.
"Our aim is to make as many public and private buildings accessible to the elderly and handicapped as possible," said DHR director Albert P. Russo. Russo said increased efforts will also be made to get other businesses to apply for the tax credit.
Concerning programs at D.C. Village, Russo said that by next week the department expects to have 100 beds recertified for Medicaid clients at the long-term care facility for the elderly.
Two years ago about 400 beds lost Medicaid certification becasue of various deficiencies, including nursing staff shortages (which were covered by overtime) and the lack of smoke detectors and a nursing call system. Since then more personnel have been provided through contract services and 150 beds have been recertified.
Smoke detectors and the nursing call system have yet to be installed.