HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, February 27, 2006

Changes Coming to Medicare Part D

Kate Steadman, an editor and contributor to TPM Cafe as well as her Healthy Policy blog, writes about some changes that CMS has suggested on Friday to make Medicare Part D work better.  She is not too thrilled with either proposed change.  She states,

In a major reversal, CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) sent out a call for suggestions on Friday to fix Medicare Part D. 

Half the battle has been won; the Administration has finally recognized that changes need to be made.  That's a major step towards fixing the legislation.  Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), CMS's two suggestions are lackluster:

The agency proposed limiting to two the number of drug plans a company can offer per region. Many insurers now offer three, and since there are often more than a dozen insurers per region, consumers often have more than 40 choices.

The agency also said it expects that an insurer's two plans must have meaningful differences to make comparisons easier.

Doing a little math, if there's 40 plans now with insurers offering three, there would be 26 plans per region after limiting plans to two. But there's no qualitative difference between offering 26 and 40 plans.  Both numbers are much too large to compare.    

For more on these suggested changes and Ms. Steadman's views, click here. [bm]

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