KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CBO Finds Generic Drugs Save Medicare $33 Billion In 2007

A new government report finds that the use of generic medications saved the Medicare program and its beneficiaries about $33 billion in 2007, The Associated Press/BusinessWeek report. The Congressional Budget Office report "says an additional $14 billion is expected as first-time generics enter the market through 2012. Medicare Part D is Medicare's prescription drug program" (9/15).

McKnight's Long Term Care News: "Trade lobbying group Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents the interests of pharmacy benefits managers, was quick to trumpet the report's findings." According to a statement from the group's president and CEO, Mark Merritt, "Policymakers can increase savings for seniors and Medicare by leveraging additional generic opportunities and rejecting special protections in Part D that insulate drugmakers from competition" (9/17). 

Meanwhile, The Palm Beach Post writes about a new tool that can help Medicare beneficiaries. "Seniors navigating the countless choices of Medicare health plans have a new resource. Extend Health, a health care exchange once used exclusively by retirees from some of the nation's largest companies, is offering its services to all seniors. Through its website and 500-member call center, the company helps assess a senior's needs, such as wanting to pay less upfront and more out-of-pocket or needing a plan that covers specific prescription drugs, and culls down the list of plans" (Green, 9/16).

And, according to Becker's Hospital Review, "When CMS begins reimbursing Medicare Advantage plans based on quality in 2012, plans covering three-quarters of enrollees wouldn't be eligible for bonus payments, if current quality scores still hold, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. One-quarter of Medicare Advantage enrollees nationwide are in plans receiving four or more stars, the quality ratings needed for CMS bonus payments, which have yet to be calculated. While many plans are at the three-star level, 17 percent of enrollees are in contracts with one to two stars" (9/16).

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