MONTPELIER, Vt. – Top Vermont officials relented Monday, saying they would not try to collect $250 federal rebates going to some Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drug costs, falling into line with the Obama administration and its own U.S. senators.

As recently as Monday morning, a top aide to Gov. Jim Douglas was saying the state would go ahead with plans to ask recipients of checks designed to address the so-called Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” to turn the money over to the state.

But by the end of the day, Heidi Tringe, Douglas’ deputy chief of staff, said administration officials had given up the idea of collecting the money, in part because of the logistical problems connected with trying to get people receiving $250 checks in the mail to turn them over to the state.

As he gave in, Douglas on Monday afternoon sent an angry letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“I certainly hope this is not indicative of what lies ahead for collaboration between HHS and states that have taken the lead on health care reform,” he wrote.

In a letter to Douglas on Friday, Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, said she understood the states’ financial problems. But she added, “The rebate checks are intended to provide fiscal relief to seniors, not states.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issued a joint statement on Friday criticizing Vermont’s efforts to collect the rebates.

“At a time when Vermont seniors are hurting, the state should reconsider its plans to ask many low-income seniors to return this much-needed help,” the senators’ statement said.

On Monday, Leahy praised the state for changing course.