Committee Presses Administration to Keep the Promise to Seniors and Protect Popular Medicare Drug Program

March 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Working to protect America’s seniors and most vulnerable citizens, House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans last week wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator (CMS) Marilyn Tavenner calling on the administration to rescind its, “Proposed Rule for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.” The committee members are concerned the administration’s unnecessary actions threaten the viability of the successful and popular prescription drug program, and warn that if the administration does not act, the House will move legislation on the matter this week.

In the letter to Tavenner, the members write, “We believe the result of this rule, if finalized, is that millions of seniors will lose their plans, even though they like them, and millions of seniors could be forced to pay more for their prescription drugs. …Preliminary estimates show seniors will face a 20 percent premium increase. Seniors who like their prescription drug plans may lose them as an estimated 214 plans would be eliminated or consolidated by the proposed rule. Given the 90% satisfaction rate among seniors for the Part D program, the dramatic changes are both unnecessary and ill advised.”

The members also explain, “The rule blatantly violated the principle of non-interference by imposing restrictions on the ability of plans to negotiate discounts for seniors with networks of ‘preferred pharmacies.’” The administration failed to provide legal justification for this change at a recent Health Subcommittee Hearing. The letter notes “that the current Health and Human Services Inspector General had publicly stated the law ‘prohibits the Government from interfering with negotiations between PDP sponsors and pharmacies and from instituting a price structure for the reimbursement of covered Part D drugs.’”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented, “The sitting HHS watchdog already made it clear the law prohibits government interference, yet here we are with the Obama administration meddling with a program seniors have embraced. The administration has much bigger problems on their hands dealing with the botched health law’s rampant broken promises. Medicare Part D should be a case study in success that is popular and under budget, a rare combination in this administration. Congress, the nation’s seniors, and more than 350 organizations have spoken out against this proposed rule. If the administration does not act, we will, and I am proud to support my colleague, Rep. Renee Ellmers’ (R-NC) Keep the Promise to Seniors Act.

Read the complete letter online here.

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