Today, we are launching the “Let’s Talk About Medicare” advertising campaign focused on solutions to improve affordability and predictability for seniors in Medicare Part D. Similar to how the “Let’s Talk About Cost” campaign opened up a conversation about costs and prescription drug coverage, this campaign builds on the momentum of that larger conversation to facilitate a discussion about solutions to strengthen the Part D program and ensure it fulfills its promise to seniors.
For more than a decade, seniors have been able to buy prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D to meet their health care needs. Thanks to robust competition and choice, the program has been successful for beneficiaries, providing expanded coverage and low and stable premiums. It has also worked well for taxpayers with overall program costs coming in 45 percent lower than initially projected. Today, more than 40 million people are enrolled in Medicare Part D.
But the program could work even better and be made fairer by improving affordability and predictability for seniors who are increasingly facing high out-of-pocket costs and ever-fluctuating costs at the pharmacy counter.
While nearly 9 out of 10 seniors are satisfied with their coverage, they do believe it could be made better for some. A recent poll shows that 89 percent agree the program could work better by making prescription drug costs more affordable and predictable for seniors. Further, by a 2 to 1 margin, they prefer the idea of reducing out-of-pocket costs for medicines over reducing premiums in Part D.
There are a lot of conversations going on in Washington D.C. right now about how to change Part D, but we need to make sure it is done the right way with targeted and measured reforms that reflect what seniors care about most – affordability and predictability.
One solution is to pass through some of the negotiated rebates to seniors at the pharmacy counter. While the average negotiated rebate in Part D is 35 percent, many seniors do not see those savings in the cost they pay at the pharmacy counter. Passing through some of those rebates could save seniors billions of dollars over the next 10 years. Seniors share the costs, they should share the savings.
And there are other solutions to strengthen the Part D program like protecting seniors from catastrophic costs and making seniors’ costs more predictable.
As policymakers continue to discuss changes to Part D, it is imperative we make sure the program fulfills its promise to seniors, the way it was intended, so they can get the health care they need at a cost they can afford.
Visit letstalkaboutmedicare.org to view the ads and learn more about the “Let’s Talk About Medicare” campaign.
Juliet Johnson is a deputy vice president of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on federal advocacy communications. Prior to joining PhRMA, Juliet was most recently the Director of Communications at CMS. She previously worked for a senior Member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and she has spent a number of years at large public affairs firms providing strategic communications counsel, coalition management and media relations to clients. Outside the office, Juliet enjoys long dinners with friends, SoulCycle, SEC football, her golden retriever Shiloh and a good scotch.