Congress Considers Legislation to Streamline Rx Discount Cards...

AUGUST 01, 2004
Ken Rankin

Medicare patients seeking help choosing from among the dozens of new drug discount cards authorized by the program are getting outdated prescription price data and incorrect pharmacy access information from the government's official Web site, Sen Kent Conrad (D, ND) told Congress.

Calling the implementation of the new drug discount card program "unnecessarily confusing," Conrad said that too many seniors "are finding it extremely difficult to figure out which card, if any, is right for them." At least part of the problem is that Medicare patients are being overwhelmed by the number of choices available, he said. "I like choice," Conrad told the Senate, "but when it comes to 60,000 different drugs purchased with 73 discount cards at over 50,000 pharmacies, the combinations seem endless for a senior with several different prescriptions to be filled."

Conrad's bill would address this problem by requiring Medicare officials to narrow the card choices available to seniors to "the 3 best discount cards in each region."

Additionally, the legislation would prohibit card sponsors from cutting back on the discounts that they promoted to seniors during the sign-up period, and it would require them to continue to offer coverage of a drug for the duration of the program.