Rational observers recognize that the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is the rare government program that has consistently come in under budget and helped hold Medicare costs and beneficiary premiums well below projections.
The program's ability to help save is illustrated by findings from Harvard researchers that show implementation of Part D was followed by a $1,200-a-year decrease in non-drug medical spending among patients who previously had limited drug coverage — an overall savings of $13 billion in 2007 alone, the first full year of the program. Additionally, 90% of seniors report that they are satisfied with their Part D coverage, and 86% say their plan offers good value, according to a recent Medicare Today survey. Yet The Times advocates a new layer of needless bureaucracy.
With its current competition-based approach, the Part D program is improving patients' lives. Isn't that ultimately what the program was built for?
The writer is senior vice president for communication at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
A simple step to make Medicare solvent would be to ban direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs.
Independent researchers have shown that the drug industry spends more on consumer advertising than research; those companies could use their marketing dollars to make up for reduced revenue when Medicare negotiates discounts for bulk purchases.