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Saturday, March 8, 2014

How Proposed Part D Changes Are Playing On Capitol Hill

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are proposing to remove some drugs from Medicare’s prescription drug plans and limit how many plans insurers can offer. KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey and CQ Roll Call’s Emily Ethridge discuss.

>> Click here to listen to audio of the conversation.

MARY AGNES CAREY: Welcome to Health on the Hill. I’m Mary Agnes Carey.

A series of proposed changes to the Medicare prescription drug program -- also known as Medicare part D -- have been getting a lot of attention on and off of Capitol Hill. Patient groups and lawmakers in both parties say easing current requirements on what drugs plan must cover could cause hardships for some patients. There’s also bipartisan opposition to a provision that would limit the number of plans insurers could offer.

With me now to discuss these issues is Emily Ethridge of CQ Roll Call. Emily, thanks so much for coming.

EMILY ETHRIDGE, CQ ROLL CALL: Thanks for having me.

MARY AGNES CAREY: Now CMS currently -- that’s the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the Medicare part D program -- they currently require that Part D plans cover the vast majority of drugs in six specific classes. And they’re proposing to drop two of these categories next year, and another might be dropped in 2015. What are these drugs that could lose this "protected status," as they call it, and why are people so...

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