Update - Nation's Medical Supply Y2K Ready

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Update: Includes statement from Medicare administrator

Washington (CNSNews.com) - When the clock rolls over New Year's Eve, there will be plenty of medicine on hand for those who need it said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.

Speaking at the federal government's Y2K readiness headquarters in Washington Tuesday, Shalala said that HHS has been working with the Food and Drug Administration, drug companies, pharmacies and health care practitioners to insure that the Y2K bug will not affect the nation's supply of medicine when computers roll over the year 2000.

There has been widespread concern of computer breakdowns from possible Y2K glitches. Since most computers read yearly dates by the last two digits, some machines may mistake the year 2000 for 1900 thereby causing malfunctions.

"People need not have fears about Y2K drug related shortages going into the New Year," Shalala told CNSNews.com.

Joining Shalala at the press conference was Medicare administrator Nancy Ann DeParle, who said that the nation's elderly should not worry about Medicare computers being affected by Y2K because the enrollment and payment systems for the federal program, which provides health coverage for millions of senior citizens, have been updated.

"Medicare computer systems are Y2K compliant," said DeParle. She added that some doctors and clinics may not be Y2K proofed, and she urged elderly patients to check their bills carefully for billing errors.

President Clinton's Y2K Czar John A. Koskinen echoed Shalala's reassurances that government and private health care systems should experience no discernible problems from the Y2K rollover.

"FDA and other elements of the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Department of Veteran Affairs and all the partners in the private health sectors are to be commended for the well-coordinated approach they have taken to ensure that Americans have plentiful supplies of medicine," said Koskinen.

"The entire health care system has pulled together," added DeParle.