Drug Rationing For Seniors Begins – American Spectator
Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare-mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major step toward rationing medications to the elderly. Since passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program have been guaranteed access to “all or substantially all” of the drugs in several classes of pharmaceuticals. President Obama’s health care bureaucrats, however, have proposed removing three of these classes from the “protected” list.
The New York Times reports, “The administration’s proposal would remove the protected status from… immunosuppressant drugs used in transplant patients, antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines.” Yes, you read that correctly. These are drugs used to facilitate organ transplants and treat patients suffering with mental illness. The Times names a few of the medicines in question: “They include many well-known drugs, such as Wellbutrin, Paxil and Prozac to treat depression, and Abilify and Seroquel to treat schizophrenia.” There can be little doubt that the next step CMS plans to take will involve a decision not to cover the most expensive of these medications at all.
This is why CMS represents this as a cost-saving measure. But the amount of money these changes will save is virtually nothing by Medicare standards. Moreover, as Yevgeny Feyman writes in Forbes, “The likely reduction in therapeutic choices could result in higher health care costs in other parts of the program, like Part A (for hospital care) or Part B (for physician services).” Further undermining the CMS cost-saving claim is that, due to the very market features that make it unpopular with Beltway bureaucrats, the Medicare prescription drug program may be the only federal entitlement in history whose costs have come in below its initial CBO projections.
Nonetheless, the Obama administration didn’t lose its affinity for health care rationing when Donald Berwick was forced out of CMS. Rationing is as much about control as it is about money. And this is where the nexus between the CMS drug proposal and Obamacare’s MA cuts can be found. Medicare’s prescription drug benefits are administered only through Medicare Advantage, and the President as well as his bureaucratic accomplices have been gunning for MA since Obama’s brief pit stop in the Senate. MA introduced private competition and patient choice into Medicare. That cannot be tolerated. Medicare must be wholly returned to their fiscally inept control. Read more…
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