Protecting Medicare Part D From Government Intervention

It’s no secret that President Obama’s healthcare law continues to struggle despite the administration touting eight million sign-ups and 13 million people getting coverage during the first enrollment season.

The administration is still struggling to get millennials to sign-up – the key demographic that was meant to benefit from the law – and there continue to be issues surrounding the rising costs of premiums and deductibles, lack of plan choice andaccess to doctors.

What’s more, a recent poll showed that voters who have been impacted by Obamacare oppose it by almost a 2-1 margin and attacking the ACA is a central component of the Republicans’ election strategy for November.

It follows that the administration should be working overtime to preserve aspects of the healthcare system that are actually working, like Medicare Part D.

Logo of the United States Department of Health...

In March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed controversial rules changes to Medicare Part D that would undermine its current success with an astonishing 95% satisfaction rate among drug plan users.

After receiving nearly 6,000 comments from the public protesting the move, the CMS decided only to table their plans instead of abandoning them outright.

But it looks like they may try again.

Even after a coalition of some 200 organizations signed a letter protesting these controversial measures, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner decided that the CMS would “engage in further…input before advancing…the changes in these areas in future years.”

There’s no need for further input. We know Medicare Part D is a success.

CBO analysis shows that Medicare Part D cost 45%, or $349 billion, less than initial projections. Drug costs only increased by 1.8% per year, growing much more slowly than total per capita drug costs. And satisfaction with the program is consistently above 90%.

It follows that with this decision, the CMS and the Obama administration are showing a lack of concern for what both the public and healthcare industry wants and knows is best for delivering affordable and good quality care.

And most of all, they’re potentially losing out on a winning healthcare program when the ACA has been nothing but a headache for the administration.

There are a number of proposed changes on the table, but one of critical importance is to reinterpret the meaning of the “noninterference clause” of Medicare Part D. This clause makes it illegal for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to regulate price negotiations between drug manufacturers, pharmacies, and Part D insurers.

However, CMS decided that this commonsense free market protection should be amended so that the Secretary can dictate the terms between pharmacies and insurers.

There are two potential negative consequences to this proposed rule change to consider. This increase in government meddling and red tape could lead to cost increases or a reduction in medication choices for consumers.