Medicine’s Role in Strengthening Medicare

Medicine’s Role in Strengthening Medicare

02.12.13 | By

With Medicare likely to be a leading topic in tonight’s State of the Union address, it’s clear that a new conversation over how best to reduce health care spending is underway. Regardless of political party, all sides agree that Medicare can be more sustainable while ensuring that seniors have regular access to the high-quality health care that they need. Medicare Part D, which covers more than 40 million seniors and persons with disabilities, plays a critical role in providing this care and reducing Medicare spending.

As PhRMA President and CEO John Castellani noted in his post earlier today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has endorsed this approach. Last November, the CBO revised its methodology for calculating medical cost savings estimates for legislative proposals that include use of prescription drugs. For every one percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled by those on Medicare, spending on medical services will be reduced by .20 percent.

According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, treating patients with chronic diseases comprises 75 percent of the nation’s health care spending. Within Medicare in particular, chronic diseases including arthritis, diabetes and hypertension accounted for more than a third of spending growth between 1997 and 2006.

While improving and saving the lives of millions of patients guides our industry every day, the recent action by the CBO illustrates the value of medicine and will help ensure that seniors continue to receive the benefits of the Part D program. The facts are clear: A recent survey by Medicare Today and KRC research found that 84 percent of seniors report that their out-of-pocket drug costs would be much higher without Medicare Part D. Sixty-one percent would be unable to fill all of their prescriptions and 53 percent would be more likely to cut back or stop taking them altogether.

Making sure Medicare patients have access to affordable, high-quality care is critical to building on the success of the program. Every stakeholder has a role to play and we’re looking forward to sharing our thoughts and insights on how keeping patients healthy can ensure Medicare’s fiscal health for decades to come.


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