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"Senator Gordon Smith (OR) Pens Op-Ed on Six Protected Classes"

April 07, 2016

Senator Gordon Smith (OR) Pens Op-Ed on Six Protected Classes

In response to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's (MedPAC) recommendation to remove two protected classes from Medicare Part D, former Senator Gordon Smith (OR), key architect of the Part D program, expressed opposition to the recommendation in the Morning Consult today. "In the decade since, Part D has proven to be an unqualified success, providing access to lifesaving innovations and coming in considerably under budget," he said. "Unfortunately, however, some in government just can’t let a good thing be, and despite the great strengths of the program and its unquestioned benefit to seniors, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is threatening to undermine the program by stripping away vital patient protections provided by Part D’s “Six Protected Classes” policy, with potentially devastating consequences for Medicare beneficiaries."


"Partnership for Part D Access Opposes MedPAC Recommendation to Rescind Patient Access to Medicare Part D Protected Classes"

April 07, 2016

Partnership for Part D Access Opposes MedPAC Recommendation to Rescind Patient Access to Medicare Part D Protected Classes

Washington, D.C. – A broad-based and diverse group of patient organizations and health care stakeholders today announced its opposition to a recommendation approved today by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) that would remove two classes of drugs from the six protected classes under current law. The proposed changes would restrict access to immunosuppressants and antidepressants, and violate the long-held, congressionally-supported protections for patients with conditions requiring therapies in the following six classes: anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antineoplastic, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals, and immunosuppressants. 


"Bloomberg BNA: Medicare Panel OKs Recommendations to Restructure Drug Benefit"

April 07, 2016

Bloomberg BNA: Medicare Panel OKs Recommendations to Restructure Drug Benefit

A slate of policy recommendations related to the Part D outpatient drug benefit was unanimously approved April 7 by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) - Bloomberg BNA reported on April 7. Bloomberg's report also noted criticisms of the protected classes provision, including the Partnership for Part D Access' objection that such a move would restrict "access to therapies for beneficiaries and violating longtime congressional protections." A diverse group of stakeholders have spoken out against the elimination of any protected classes, with Bloomberg citing the Epilepsy Foundation's urging to "to reject the [MedPAC's] suggestion and to instead consider strengthening the protected classes." 


"IHP: MedPAC Passes Part D Proposals That Could Save $10 Billion"

April 07, 2016

IHP: MedPAC Passes Part D Proposals That Could Save $10 Billion

On April 7, Inside Health Policy reported that Congress' Medicare advisers, known as the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), unanimously passed a package of Part D recommendations in an effort to cut costs, including the elimination of two protected drug classes. Despite the Commission's unanimous vote, the report noted opposition to the recommendations from a variety of stakeholders and that some Commisioners expressed hesitations about the removal of antidepressants and immunosuppresants from the group of six drug classes currently protected under federal law. Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice-president of the National Council for Behavioral Health and executive director of the Partnership for Part D Access, was quoted as saying, “Restricting timely access to medicine jeopardizes patient health, puts patients at greater risk for poor clinical outcomes, and increases costs for patients and taxpayers. The Partnership for Part D Access is activating to alert patients and affected stakeholders about the danger of MedPAC’s ill-advised proposal to limit access to essential medications.” 


"Modern Healthcare: MedPAC outlines post-acute pay overhaul, backs Part D changes"

April 07, 2016

Modern Healthcare: MedPAC outlines post-acute pay overhaul, backs Part D changes

Modern Healthcare reported last Thursday on the recommendations made by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to design a "road map for overhauling how the program pays for post-acute care." One of the proposals - removing antidepressants and immunosuppressants from the drug classses protected under federal law - drew hesitations from some Commissioners and outright opposition from other stakeholders. As noted in Modern Healthcare's report, the protected classes provision was "perhaps the most controversial," and that providers and advocates "were furious." Among those who were opposed to MedPAC's recommendation was Dr. Matthew Cooper, transplant surgeon and board member of the National Kidney Foundation, who said in a statement: “Without protected class status, there is no other guarantee under Medicare that would ensure patient access to all immunosuppressive drugs. In order to find the right combination for individual patients, physicians must have the full-range of approved immunosuppressive drugs at their disposal.”


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