Bill would prevent proposed changes to Medicare Part D

Legislation introduced on Thursday by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) would take steps to preserve the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and prevent unilateral changes by the Obama administration.

A rule proposed by the administration would allow insurers to limit Medicare coverage for specific classes of drugs and change the pharmacy networks policy in an effort to reduce cost and prevent overuse of drugs under Medicare Part D.

Ellmers said the changes would eliminate the prescription drug program’s competitive elements that lead to lower costs and could be “catastrophic” for seniors.

“These cuts would include three out of the six protected classes of drugs that many nursing home patients need, including antidepressants, anti-psychotics and imunosuppressants,” Ellmers said. “In my home state of North Carolina alone, over 550,000 senior citizens stand to lose their prescription drug coverage if this rule goes into effect.”

The Keep the Promise to Seniors Act would prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing the proposed rule.

“The administration’s 700-page rule is a complete assault on this program and would remove the free market mechanisms that have made it work,” Ellmers said. “This widely successful and popular program has provided our seniors with options, choices and an affordable way to purchase prescription drugs. Medicare Part D requires prescription drug companies to compete and offer a diverse set of options, which have driven down costs and led to a successful model that has routinely come in under budget.”