Senator Grassley and Senator Brown Urge CMS to Maintain Policy Requiring Medicare Part D Plans to Carry Medicines in Six Categories
July Update: On June 30, 2016 Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio wrote to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and have recommended and urged Acting Commissioner Andy Slavic to have the agency maintain current policy requiring that Medicare prescription drug plans carry six categories of prescription drugs offered to participating beneficiaries.
The six protected classes are anticonvulsants, antidepressants; antineoplastics, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals, and immunosuppressants for the treatment of transplant rejection. Senator Grassley’s office has confirmed that the letter was sent on July 5, 2016.
The Grassley-Brown letter is available here.
In June 2016, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released a report where they recommended changes be made to this important and popular policy. Even while making this recommendation the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s report stated that “the degree to which plans could achieve additional savings is unclear.”
Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Sherrod Brown stated that regardless of potential savings, they have serious concerns wth the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s recent proposal and recommendation and urge the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “to maintain the six protected classes policy as it currently exists.”
Under the current policy, a Part D plan is required to cover all or substantially all drugs in six therapeutic classes: antiretrovirals, immunosuppressants when used to prevent organ rejection, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsant agents and antineoplastics.
MedPAC suggested removing immunosuppressants used to prevent transplant rejection and to remove antidepressants from the list. The commission stated that their recommendation would allow patients to switch to generic medications and this would save money. They admitted that they had no idea how many people wold be impacted by this change and they had no idea exactly how much money could be saved.
Readers of this website will note that there have already been two occasions where the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tried to make this change by their internal “rule-making”. The first time was in 2012 and they tried again in 2014.
LI TRIO and other dedicated advocates and stakeholders helped state the important case to precent these changes and members of both parties in Congress vehemently opposed the idea to no longer protect immunosuppressants when used to prevent organ rejection, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsant agents and antineoplastics.
In other words, The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have already tried to limit the categories by regulation, then dropped its plans after public outcry and letters from Members of Congress. Now it’s time to spread the word and help keep the protected classes of medications protected.-Mike Sosna
This article was originally published here: