Rule that could have hurt Medicare coverage withdrawn

WASHINGTON - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services withdrew a proposed rule for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage on Tuesday. The rule would have abruptly changed and limited the availability of prescription drug coverage for seniors who rely on Medicare.

The decision by CMS comes after Dr. Ruiz and over 40 Members of Congress sent a letter urging the organization to rescind the rule.

"As an emergency medicine physician, my priority is the seniors I care for and serve, and I know first hand how important Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage is for our seniors," said Dr. Ruiz.

The proposed rule would have limited choices and had the potential to raise drug prices for nearly 13 million beneficiaries, according to officials.

The following is the letter Dr. Ruiz and over 40 members of Congress sent to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of CMS:

Dear Administrator Tavenner:
We are writing to urge you to withdraw the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Part D proposed rule (CMS-4159-P). We are deeply concerned that this rule threatens to cause disruption for millions of Part D enrollees this fall during 2015 Open Enrollment and inflict significant harm to the successful Part D model that has resulted in high enrollee satisfaction and lower-than-expected costs.
Over the past decade, Medicare Part D has been a model for government and industry cooperation in health care. The program has maintained stable, affordable average monthly premiums, enjoys a 90 percent approval rating among beneficiaries, and has cost nearly $200 billion less than original Congressional Budget Office projections. This tremendous success has been achieved through Medicare Part D's unique model, which promotes robust competition among plans to serve Medicare beneficiaries while ensuring they meet strict coverage, quality, and service standards enforced by CMS.
We are very concerned that the proposed rule will jeopardize the effectiveness and benefits of Medicare Part D, including beneficiary access to lower-premium drug plans.  Lower-premium drug plans - some as low as $12.60 a month - account for around 70% of total stand-alone Part D enrollment. Enrollees in lower-premium plans are overwhelmingly satisfied, citing lower costs, convenient access to pharmacies, and other benefits. Research even shows that many of the lower-premium plans have the same or better average quality ratings than plans with higher premiums.  We fear this proposed rule could restrict plan choice and access to needed drugs for seniors who choose lower-premium plans.
In light of the success of Medicare Part D and our strong concerns with the sweeping changes being considered by CMS, we ask that you withdraw the proposed rule.


"As I have in the past, I will always stand with our seniors to oppose any effort that would weaken our seniors hard earned Medicare benefits," Ruiz said in a statement on Tuesday.

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