March 19, 2015
In a letter sent to the House of Representatives today, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare President/CEO, Max Richtman, applauded efforts to permanently replace the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to determine Medicare payments to physicians and other providers. However, the National Committee expressed strong opposition to plans to pay for nearly half of the offsets in the bill by increasing costs for Medicare beneficiaries. The group suggested other reasonable alternatives in its Congressional letter:
“The National Committee calls on House leaders to perfect the SGR package by dropping plans to require seniors and people with disabilities to pay more for Medicare. To that end, we suggest other offsets to the legislation. For example, we support restoring rebates from drug manufacturers for the drugs used by individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and for people receiving the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS). Additional offset proposals we support include increasing manufacturer discounts for brand name drugs in Medicare Part D to 75 percent, effectively closing the coverage gap “donut hole” for brand name drugs in 2017, three years sooner than under current law; promoting lower pharmaceutical costs by providing for faster development of generic versions of biologic drugs; and prohibiting “pay-for-delay” agreements between brand name and generic pharmaceutical companies that delay entry of generic drugs into the market which would provide prescription drug savings and would lower costs for beneficiaries.”
Max Richtman added:
“Congress needs to get rid of the flawed formula used to reimburse doctors in Medicare and that’s why we’ve been calling for its repeal for years. However, the ‘doc-fix’ plan now being negotiated behind closed doors shifts costs to those who can least afford it – seniors. Under this compromise deal, it’s been reported that beneficiaries are expected to pay for $35 billion of the $70 billion cost of permanently fixing this physician payment formula. This is a bad ‘deal’ for seniors on Medicare.
While expecting ‘wealthy seniors’ to pay more for their Medicare may sound reasonable, the reality is Medicare is already means-tested and further cost-shifting will impact middle-income beneficiaries. This ‘doc fix’ deal, as currently being discussed, means seniors will pay higher Part B and Part D premiums, as well as a $250 deductible for all new beneficiaries’ supplemental Medigap first-dollar coverage policies. Given that 46% of all Medigap policy holders had incomes of $30,000 or less, it’s clear this deal impacts far more than the ‘wealthy’, as claimed.”
The National Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization acts in the interests of its membership through advocacy, education, services, grassroots efforts and the leadership of the Board of Directors and professional staff. The work of the National Committee is directed toward developing better-informed citizens and voters.
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