AMAC On Capitol Hill

Victory for Medicare Part D

by Andrew Mangione – AMAC was one of many stakeholders that successfully fought to protect the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and to uphold choice for the 39 million mature Americans and seniors participating in this important health care program.

AMAC is very pleased to report that the Obama administration has retreated from a proposal that would impose harmful regulations on the Medicare Part D program. This proposal – issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in January 2014 – would have gravely threatened seniors’ access to certain medications and would have fundamentally undermined the free market principles that have contributed to the overwhelming success and popularity of the Part D program. For AMAC and the beneficiaries of Part D, the decision to rescind this proposal is a significant victory that will ensure the continuation of this tangible benefit for seniors!

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, CMS has agreed to shelve the proposed regulations after encountering a fury of opposition from lawmakers and more than 200 stakeholders – including AMAC. Claiming these regulations would “simplify” the program for older Americans and would generate program savings over time, CMS pushed to unnecessarily expand the government’s role in the Medicare Part D program – despite 90% of beneficiaries reporting satisfaction with their plans. CMS’ attempt to wield more power over Part D signifies the administration’s desire to weaken the public-private relationship between drug manufacturers and health plan sponsors and to strategically exert more control over a market-based program that functions efficiently and effectively.

Like many mature Americans and seniors, AMAC recognizes the value of the Medicare Part D program in its current structure and vehemently opposes any rule that would limit choice or restrict access to the vital medications seniors need. In fact, AMAC believes that had CMS chosen to proceed with their proposal, consumers’ abilities to select coverage that best suits their individual health needs would have been seriously impeded and competition and choice egregiously eroded. As a market-based program, Part D is able to keep premiums low and beneficiaries satisfied by fostering competition amongst drug manufacturers, establishing strategic relationships with retailers and offering many classes of low-cost generic medications.

To express our thoughts regarding CMS’ proposal, AMAC delivered letters of concern to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and to Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. The Subcommittee worked promptly and aggressively to address this critical issue in a February hearing entitled, “Messing With Success: How CMS’ Attack on the Part D Program Will Increase Costs and Reduce Choices for Seniors.” AMAC’s letter – which was submitted to the Congressional Record – validates that our time meeting with legislators and key Subcommittee members and their staff is indeed time well spent. In addition, AMAC recently supported Representative Renee Ellmers’ legislation, the “Keep the Promise to Seniors Act,” (H.R. 4160), which would have blocked CMS’ prescription drug provisions so that seniors could maintain access to their Part D plans. AMAC has been vigilant as well as vocal regarding our members’ concern about any changes to Part D, and it is truly satisfying that our efforts helped to secure this victory, one that belongs to AMAC’s membership.

Today, AMAC applauds CMS for thoughtfully considering the myriad concerns of lawmakers, stakeholders, and older Americans. Administrator Tavenner has promised to “‘engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in future years.’” AMAC remains committed to holding CMS accountable for this promise and to ensure that seniors maintain access to the Part D plans they like and prefer.

AMAC is proud to be on the record fighting to preempt and prevent the central planning efforts of the Federal government on behalf of our 1.1 million members. Though at first glance the administration’s decision to withdraw their proposal may appear to be relatively insignificant, AMAC recognizes that the outcome of CMS’ regulations would have been catastrophic for seniors participating in Part D. As the fastest-growing conservative seniors organization in the country, AMAC played a critical role in opposing CMS’ regulations, and this victory is a direct result of AMAC’s action in Washington, D.C.

[1] Dooren, Jennifer Corbett. “Proposed Medicare Part D Drug Changes Are Scrapped.” Wall Street Journal. March 10, 2014.  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304020104579431481762216704?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304020104579431481762216704.html.

[1] Ibid.

 

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Joe Rodriguez
6 years ago

I thank you; for what AMAC IS doing for us i am so glad i joined, the other oh cannot remember their name were just a political ally for Democrat liberals i was a member for 20 to 25 years, and never saw such quick action , i will ask every senior i know to join,when i joined membership was 50,000 now is close to a million that is great love to see it go to fifty million.i am 84 of age i feel more comfortable with you guys on the team; sincerely JOE

Ronald
6 years ago

Speaking of generic drug costs, I wonder if other seniors are seeing the huge increases in drug costs in the past 3 months? I take generic blood pressure and statin meds. Both have gone from $4 per month to $20. per month. I was given a pain medicine following tooth extraction and the dentist said it should cost $20. for 15 pills. The drug store charged me $33. explaining the drug was just increased last month. I have checked other drug stores and my meds would be higher at those stores. All drug stores told me there have been big… Read more »

CJeanne
6 years ago

And AMAC needs to stay on top of obamacare…. The government will begin denying procedures to seniors soon, already denying home health to some seniors, but to include stents, joint replacements and neurosurgery in the event of a stroke. With thousands of MDs leaving medicine, obamacare is planning to use Physician Assistants (who have 1 year education) and Nurse Practitioneers to provide “health” care. However, that will significantly decrease the quality of care as it is only through experience and the intense decision making process which physicians develop, anything out of the “usual” will be missed – except for the… Read more »

Richard E. Carmichael, PH.D.
6 years ago

We won this battle. Now it is time to take on the Liberals who are attempting to take away Seniors Medical Advantage Plans. I am not sure why any Senior would vote for a Democrat until the party becomes more moderate.

Tommie
6 years ago

Thank you AMAC for fighting that the seniors will be allowed to keep Part D!!!

Owen Tooms
6 years ago

What are you all doing about Oboma Care and the “Advantage” program the he is going to gut?

HAM
6 years ago

I agree PaulE. AMAC does need to remain vigilant to ensure CMS does not pull this off the shelf AFTER the 2014 election. We all know how sneaky this administration is and they will likely try to reinstate this late on a Friday or late afternoon just before a holiday. That is their MO. Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years need to be especially monitored as these would be easy times to sneak it in.

Marilyn G
6 years ago

I agree with Paul E. They will say anything before the election but then—watch out! As Obama sent the message to Vladimir, “after the election I’ll have more flexibility”. GO AMAC !!!!

Ron
6 years ago

There is one change I would like to see in part “D”, and that is to remove the “spanking fee for life”, for missing out on part “D” when we first got medicare and causing me to not have the ability to get part “D”, ever. They did not explain that lifetime spanking fee when I unrolled in Social Security when I was 65. I am 76 now. Our government is over loaded with morons.

PaulE
6 years ago

The reason CMS shelved its proposal, at least for now, is solely because of the upcoming elections. Everything is being done with an eye towards minimizing the loses the Democrats will experience this November. Politics, not some found concern for seniors, is what is behind this about face in planned changes. So it would be beneficial for AMAC to keep an eye on the CMS, to ensure they don’t come out with another similar proposal AFTER the November elections.

Chuck
6 years ago

Thank you AMAC for all the efforts you made on behalf of Part D and Seniors of the US!! I am very fortunate to require only an inexpensive generic for my needs but I know people who need very expensive drugs to maintain their health and also know “but for the grace of God go I”…something everyone needs to consider.

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