Part D beneficiaries need more coverage
Somerset County senior citizens who thought they were getting help with the doughnut hole provision of Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage with the new Somerset County Drug Discount Card received bad news from Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting.
None of their purchases with the new NACo card made during their doughnut hole will count towards getting them out of the hole. The doughnut hole is a gap in Part D coverage when people go from paying a co-payment for their prescriptions to paying for the entire cost. Somerset County commissioners worked to get the National Association of Counties prescription drug card for people who don’t have insurance or who have only some insurance. The cards, available without cost to residents or to the county taxpayers, enable people to save 20 percent on medications. They are to be commended for doing that; the fault is not theirs.
Congress should have passed Part D without a doughnut hole. Instead, Congress sided with the drug companies and shifted the cost to senior citizens. As Part D’s threshold for resuming coverage goes up each year, more and more senior citizens will be unable to pay for all their medications.
A report by the Center for Economics and Policy Research states if the drug benefit had been administered through the existing Medicare system, rather than through private insurers, the doughnut hole would be considerably smaller at no additional cost to the government. If Medicare had been allowed to bargain directly with pharmaceutical companies, such as the Veterans Administration does, the savings would have been more substantial.
Congress needs to revise Medicare Part D and make it work for senior citizens, not for pharmaceutical companies.