The new Medicare Part D prescriptiondrug program has spawned fiercecompetition among scores of drugplans hoping to sign up seniors forcoverage before the new benefit takeseffect on January 1, 2006. At presstime, the Department of Health andHuman Services (HHS) had formallyapproved scores of plans for participationin the new program, and governmentofficials were predicting that theintense competition between theseplans would lower costs and enhanceoptions for Medicare beneficiaries.
At least 2 prescription drug planshave won HHS approval in every state,an official from the department said,and between 11 and 20 organizationswill be offering prescription drug plansin each region of the country. At least10 organizations will be offering drugcoverage to seniors nationwide. Moreover,plans have been approved inevery state but Alaska that will chargepatients monthly premiums of $20 orless. All of the approved plans havemet Medicare's requirements for providingaccess to medically necessarydrugs, including standards for access toconvenient retail pharmacies.
"Thanks to the range of optionsavailable, everyone in Medicare will beable to choose a prescription drug planthat addresses individual concernsabout cost, coverage, and convenience," HHS Secretary Mike Leavittsaid. "For premiums that are in manycases much lower than expected, seniorswill be able to get Medicare-approvedprescription drug coveragethat will help protect their health aswell as their savings."
Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.