Published: March 2014

Possible changes to Medicare promote choice and savings for seniors

One of the federal government's most successful and cost-effective healthcare programs, Part D, provides drug benefits for the elderly and disabled through private insurers to 36 million enrollees. The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) proposed changes to Part D as part of the agency’s ongoing effort to strengthen the program, ultimately helping beneficiaries make good choices and saving taxpayers money.

Proposed earlier this year, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) changes to Part D would affect several aspects of the Medicare drug program, ranging from new limits on the number of plans insurers could offer consumers, to new rules about what drugs those plans must cover. It also would prohibit exclusion of pharmacies from a plan’s “preferred pharmacy network” as long as they agree to the plan’s terms and conditions.

Critics of the reform note it’s a classic example of government overreach: meddling with a successful program that seniors like and costs the government billions less than predicted. Supporters say that in its current state, preffered pharmacy networks, while admirable in their supposed goal of reducing costs, ultimately fail consumers.

In comments to CMS, Consumer Action joined other consumer advocates in supporting its proposed rule changes to Part D. This proposed legislation will help Medicare stir competition, resulting in savings for consumers. Consumers should have the ultimate decision in their pharmacy of choice and commend CMS for recognizing that these preferred networks, as constructed, do not save costs for the Medicare program or for patients in the long-term.

 

Other Organizations

AIDS United | American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) | Alliance for Housing and Healing | Alpha-1 Association | Being Alive | California Alliance for Retired Americans | Consumer Action | Digestive Disease National Coalition | District Council 37 | Gray Panthers | Hemophilia Federation of America | National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices | Service Employees International Union (SEIU) | Sergeants Benevolent Association | US Hereditary Angioedema Association | U.S. PIRG | Valley Community Clinic

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Possible changes to Medicare promote choice and savings for seniors   (PartD-Comments.pdf)

 
 

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