Committee Leaders Remain Concerned with Administration’s Proposed Changes to Medicare Part D and Potential Harm to Seniors

April 3, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner regarding the administration’s proposed changes to the Medicare Part D program. Members of the committee, along with several other bipartisan lawmakers and more than 350 stakeholder organizations, voiced significant concerns regarding the proposed rule when it was issued early this year. In response, the administration announced in March that it would not finalize certain parts of the proposed rule “at this time” but said it would “engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years.” As the letter explains, the committee remains concerned about the potential consequences of implementing these proposed changes in the future “and the harmful impact on seniors who depend on the Part D prescription drug benefit.” 

The letter notes that, “on February 26, 2014, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum testified before the Committee that he was not aware that the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) and others had publicly stated that CMS does not have the legal authority to interfere in the negotiations between drug plans and pharmacies.  As members who served in Congress when Part D was created, we can assure you it was the intent of Congress to ensure that your agency did not interfere in these negotiations.”  

The letter requests documents pertaining to the cost and legal justification for the proposed rule and asks whether the administration plans to finalize parts of the rule in CMS’ 2015 call letter, expected to be finalized on April 7, 2014.   

The letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), and Vice Chairman of Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX). 

Read the complete letter online here.

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