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Taking aim at Medicare Part D is misguided approach

BY PETER PITTS Published: February 6, 2013

Just look at what's already happening in our Medicaid program. Drug companies are required by law to sell their wares to Medicaid at below-market prices; consequently, they've been forced to raise prices elsewhere. In other words, the proposed Part D rebate program would effectively levy a new tax on every senior who isn't eligible for Medicaid. Indeed, two independent studies have estimated that the rebate plan will raise premiums for traditional Medicare enrollees by 20 to 50 percent.

Higher premiums are a big concern for most Part D beneficiaries. According to the Medicare Today poll, 84 percent of enrollees were worried that a Part D restructuring would increase their out-of-pocket drug costs, while 53 percent were afraid it would cause them to cut back or stop taking their medicines altogether.

Government health programs are still in serious need of comprehensive reform. Unfortunately, the president continues to attack the very part of the system that's most financially sound. Changes to Medicare Part D will raise only minimal revenue — and at the expense of America's seniors.

Pitts is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.