The government has barred the plan from enrolling new members until problems are fixed.
Minnesota seniors enrolled in the SilverScript pharmacy benefits plan are encountering problems getting prescriptions filled after call centers became overwhelmed at the start of the new year's coverage period.
About 47,000 Minnesotans are enrolled in SilverScript's Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, according to the state Board on Aging, which has helped 20 people resolve problems since Sunday.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has imposed sanctions on SilverScript, which is operated by CVS Caremark, forcing the company to suspend marketing or enrolling new members until the problems have been resolved.
The federal agency said it believes the issues are of a serious enough nature that if left uncorrected, it will consider taking action to immediately terminate the contract.
Minnesotans have experienced a multitude of problems, including trying to refill medications that no longer are covered without pre-authorization and increases in co-pay amounts, said Jean Wood, executive director of the Board on Aging. In a handful of cases, a person's enrollment had not been processed so information was not in their pharmacist's system.
Those covered by the SilverScript plan should not wait until the last minute to fill prescriptions, Wood said. If there are urgent problems, call the Senior LinkAge Line for help at 1-800-333-2433.
The LinkAge Line is designated by the federal government to provide assistance on insurance and various other issues.
CVS Caremark is best known as the operator of 7,400 retail drug stores as well as 600 MinuteClinics. Its prescription drug insurance company, which has 60 million members, has been designated as a benchmark plan by the federal government for proving it has met certain standards of cost and quality.
"We take these issues very seriously and are committed to working swiftly with CMS officials to address their areas of concern," Jon Roberts, president of CVS Caremark's pharmacy benefit management business, said in a statement.
Existing employer group health plans are not affected, according to the company.
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335