Medicare Prescription Drug Policies
Although the Medicare prescription drug benefit, or Part D, has been viewed by some as largely successful, TSCL believes this program remains flawed. The prices of many prescription drugs dramatically increased after the benefit was implemented in 2006, and many prices continue to soar. This is due in large part to the cost of brand name and specialty drugs for which there is no generic or lower-cost alternative. These medications are often placed in “specialty tiers,” and they significantly drive up the out-of-pocket seniors face.
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act began to close the “donut hole,” or the gap in coverage that occurs after a beneficiary’s drug costs reach $2,970 and before they total $4,750. Discounts from pharmaceutical manufacturers and subsidies from Medicare have begun to assist those who fall into the coverage gap. The ACA promises to gradually close the donut hole by 2020. However, TSCL fears that the plan laid out to close the gap may contain some flaws and it deserves a second look.
TSCL supports efforts to increase and improve outreach to seniors, especially those individuals that could qualify for the Extra Help program. Simplifying and streamlining the application process would be a vast improvement to the program. In addition to improving Medicare Part D, TSCL will continue to seek out other solutions for lowering the prices of prescription drugs.