July 05, 2016
Senators Grassley, Brown Urge CMS to Maintian 'Six Protected Classes' Policy
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio are urging the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to maintain current policy requiring that Medicare prescription drug plans carry six categories of prescription drugs offered to participating beneficiaries. Grassley and Brown are the sponsors of legislation requiring the maintenance of the “six protected classes.” The agency earlier tried to limit the categories by regulation, then dropped its plans after public outcry. Grassley and Brown are concerned that CMS might try again.
June 15, 2016
Patient Stakeholders Oppose MedPAC Recommendation to Undermine Medicare’s ‘Protected Classes’
The Partnership for Part D Access issued a press release today immediately following the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's (MedPAC) release of their June Report to Congress. The statement addresses the report’s proposal to reduce access to drugs currently protected under the six ‘protected classes’ policy. A number of patient stakeholders came out against the recommendations. For example, Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Andrew Sperling wrote, “This is a program that has proven time and again that it keeps patients healthy so they don’t have to turn to costly hospital stays for care. For those with mental health issues, Part D provides access to the specific life-saving medications that their doctors prescribe. This is vital to our most vulnerable citizens because it gives them the ability to live healthy lives.”
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."
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.
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."