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Three simple solutions to cure Medicare prescription-plan ills
Stefanacci probably overstates his case, but his article is a short, cogent analysis of concerns that have dogged the Medicare drug plan since its inception. Unfortunately, his "simple solutions" would most likely prove to be counterproductive.
Basically, the difficulties are in the areas of enrollment and access to drugs. Seniors are confused about how to determine the most appropriate plan and then, once enrolled, how to get their medications...
Stefanacci is surely correct to point out that the complexity of the signup process for Medicare Part D slowed initial enrollment. Still, recent surveys show that seniors are generally satisfied with the plans they have chosen, and that picking a plan was actually less complicated than they expected. Medicare officials are already discussing ways to streamline the number of drug plans offered in the program, so seniors will have fewer, more clear cut, choices in the future.
Medicare should probably also stick to its May 15 deadline. This will encourage seniorspresumably healthy seniors with modest drug costswho are sitting on the sidelines, to sign up for a drug plan now. Getting these seniors to choose a drug plan while they have low health care costs will help keep the Medicare drug benefit financially sound, and presumably, keep these seniors more healthy as they age.
Finally, there is already a review process in place for seniors to get access to medically necessary medications not covered in plan formularies. Private plans should be able to set their own formulariesseniors who want the broadest possible access to medicines can sign up for a plan with a higher premium or deductible, and seniors who want lower costs can choose a program with a lower premium, but more formulary restrictions.
Choice and competition will help every senior find a drug plan that fits his or her situation and medical needs. Medicare certainly needs more reforms, just not the ones that Stefanacci is proposing.
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