National Medicare Education Week: The history of Medicare Part D

Tom Wilbur   |     September 15, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

Today, in honor of National Medicare Education Week, we’ll be taking a quick look back at the history of Medicare, specifically the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit .

The original Medicare program was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and included Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). In 1997, Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, was added as a managed care option for beneficiaries. The program was later expanded to include Part D, which offered prescription drug coverage for the first time. For more than a decade, Part D has offered affordable and comprehensive prescription drug coverage to seniors and people living with disabilities.

Let’s take a closer look at some key moments in the Part D program timeline:

  • 2003: President George W. Bush signs into law the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, adding an optional prescription drug benefit known as Part D.

  • 2006: Medicare Part D plans became available; Part D can be purchased as a stand-alone plan or integrated with Medicare Advantage plans.

  • 2007: The number of Part D plan options reaches a peak, with an average of 56 plan options for beneficiaries.

  • 2016: Study finds that Part D plans receive an average 35.3 percent discount from manufacturer list prices, underscoring the substantial rebates negotiated in the program.

  • 2019: More than 45 million Americans are enrolled in Part D.

  • 2020: Part D offers more than 948 prescription drug plans across 34 regions, representing a 5% increase from 2019.

  • 2020: 92% of beneficiaries report they are satisfied with their coverage.

Check back here over the coming weeks for more information about the impact of Part D and considerations for how Congress can continue to improve the program for beneficiaries. In the meantime, learn more at PhRMA.org/PartD.

Tom Wilbur

Tom Wilbur is Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA focusing on federal advocacy priorities including Medicare and intellectual property. Prior to joining PhRMA, Tom worked in politics and on Capitol Hill, most recently responsible for communications and strategy for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Tom is a proud Michigander and outside of the office enjoys reading, running, hiking, golfing, live music, and spending time with family and friends.

Topics: Part D

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