Coalition Lobbies for Medicare Prescription Drug Program that Uses Private-Sector Techniques
Several employer and health industry organizations announced yesterday that they have formed a coalition to lobby for a Medicare prescription drug program that uses techniques similar to those employed in the private sector to manage drug usage, Medill News Service/South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Called the Rx Benefits Coalition, the group plans to hold briefings and meet with lawmakers to discuss how Medicare -- in adding a drug benefit -- might cut costs by mimicking private drug programs (Yamanouchi, Medill News Service/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/15). The group says "market-based techniques" should be used in any effort to reform Medicare (National Association of Manufacturers release, 2/14). For example, Medicare could cut costs if it purchased drugs in bulk, encouraged beneficiaries to use generic drugs and used mail-order services, the group said. Also, a market-based program could help reduce medication errors by monitoring patients' prescriptions. Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, which joined the coalition, said, "There's a real dearth of knowledge about what these services involve" (Medill News Service/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/15). Neil Trautwein, a health care lobbyist with the National Association of Manufacturers, another coalition member, said, "The private sector relies on innovative tools and services to help manage drug benefits in a safe and effective manner, and the Medicare system will have those same needs as its seeks to provide this vital benefit to seniors" (NAM release, 2/14). The American Association of Health Plans, Kaiser Permanente, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Health Underwriters, the Health Insurance Association of America, CIGNA and Aetna have also joined the coalition (Medill News Service/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.