H.R. 4160 The Keep the Promise to Seniors Act

March 7, 2014

Sponsored by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

Legislation Protects Seniors from Obama Administration Attack on Medicare Part D

  • H.R. 4160, the “Keep the Promise to Seniors Act” protects seniors enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans by blocking a recent Obama administration rule that will eliminate choices for seniors, raise seniors’ premiums and drug costs, and increase costs for taxpayers. 
  • In January 2014, the administration issued a 700-page rule that undermines the competition-based model at the heart of Medicare Part D program. These changes include:
    • Allowing CMS to interfere in contract negotiations between plans and pharmacies.
    • Limiting the number of prescription drug coverage options that can be offered by a plan to two per region.
    • Imposing costly new restrictions on preferred pharmacy and mail-order prescriptions.
  • These regulations mean seniors who like their prescription drug plan may lose it.
  • Seniors and taxpayers will face higher costs initially, and they will increase over time.
  • The 700-page rule is another Obama administration attempt to flout the rule of law.
    • The rule unlawfully gives HHS the power to interfere in negotiations between plans and pharmacies.
    • This “reinterpretation” of the law’s “noninterference provision” ignores the letter of the law, the legal opinion of the current HHS Inspector General, a memorandum written by the former White House counsel, and a decade of legal statements made by CMS during the Bush and Obama administrations.
  • There is mounting opposition to the rule from over 350 organizations representing patients, seniors, employers, Americans with disabilities, manufacturers, plans, and pharmacies. A strong bipartisan group of House Members and Senators have also written to CMS in opposition to the rule.
  • The rule is Washington messing with success and an attempt to “fix” a program that is already working.
    • Seniors have at least 23 plan options in every Medicare region.
    • Surveys show that 90% of seniors are satisfied with their prescription drug plan.
    • By using market competition instead of Washington mandates and price controls, the Part D program has driven down premiums and program costs. The average Part D premium is $30 per month, roughly half the original projection. The program is estimated to cost 48 percent less than initially estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • Rather than cancelling the prescription drug plans that millions of seniors depend on, HHS should focus on cleaning up the damage and broken promises caused by Obamacare.