PHARMA/POLICY: One estimate of what Part D is wasting, with UPDATE

Dean Baker working under the auspices of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future has written a study of what is being wasted on Part D. His number is $80 billion a year!. Given that the whole program was originally supposed to cost less than $50 billion a year that’s quite some number! The number he’s calculated is (I think) the difference between what the government will pay now and what it would have paid if it was negotiating for the drugs at the VA rate, plus the amount the CBO says CMS is spending on private administration of the project above what it would have cost to simply add one sole plan to Medicare.

Whether or not this analysis is fair, the Dems are nuts if they don’t get a great sound bite out of this.

UPDATE: Of course one Dem, Henry Waxman, is watching.

6 replies »

  1. How is it that in the entire debate about Medicare part D, no one thought to ask the obvious question: do we really NEED to take all those drugs? The answer is a resounding “NO!” Our instant-gratification society always assumes a drug is the best solution for any health problem: it isn’t. We spend the vast majority of our drug dollars on drugs for type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and depression. (I won’t mention all those improperly prescribed antibiotics we take for simple viral infections, that don’t work, and create drug-resistant bacteria, requiring us to search for ever-more expensive antibiotics, so we can have more choices to improperly treat simple viruses.) Yet we know that DIET AND EXERCISE can successfully treat all of these, or at the very least, reduce the amount of medication and the length of time one needs to take medications. But diet and exercise, in fact, any long-term behavioral change, takes time and effort, and we as a society just can’t be bothered. Or maybe, we just need to use the ultimate federal government weapon: get the diet and exercise folks better lobbyists.

  2. According to the Congressional Quarterly staff, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said that he’ll offer a bill next week establishing a single nationwide premium for Medicare drug coverage.
    The proposal also would eliminate the “doughnut hole” in the standard Medicare drug benefit in which beneficiaries must pay full prescription costs. It also would give Medicare authority to negotiate drug reimbursement directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
    Kennedy said the changes would apply to coverage offered directly by Medicare and would compete with that offered currently by private plans contracting with the program. If the authors of the current Medicare drug law “are so sure that private plans can do a better job of delivering prescription drug coverage than Medicare, let’s put it to the test,” Kennedy said in a statement.

  3. 1. do you think that CFAF would reach any other result?
    2. perhaps they could have compared it to the cost of NO medicare part D, but rather a means tested program forn those who actually need it.
    3. Remember, the brilliant experts who hailed Medicare as the savior of healthcare for the elderly (back when 65 was actually older), claimed the cost would be $9 billion in 1980, when the actual cost was 10x!