Michael Fumento

Break out the cat food! Seniors are again under attack by Big Pharma. Crushing drug prices under the new Medicare Plan D will not only force grandma and grandpa to steal kitty’s din-din and turn off the heat and A/C, they may be forced to donate their bodies to science – while they’re still alive.

Or so the leftist, self-styled “patient advocacy group” Families USA would have us think with its latest “study,” released in conjunction with an AARP “study” attacking Part D drug prices from a different angle. Actually, both are aimed at getting for the elderly what socialist Samuel Gompers said was the ultimate goal of the U.S. labor movement: “More, more, more.”

The report from Families USA claims insurers participating in the Medicare Part D passed on increases for 19 of the top 20 drugs to program participants, which now number about 33 million. “Part D plans are doing essentially nothing to contain the fast-rising prices by the drug industry,” insists the group’s executive director.

Actually, the way Part D plans are designed will shield most beneficiaries from drug price increases, a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spokesman told UPI. “What’s most important to remember is most beneficiaries are enrolled in plans with flat co-payments, so they’re not going to experience changes in the cost of drugs,” he said, noting that 90 percent are enrolled in plans that limit out-of-pocket costs.

According to Medicare chief Mark McClellan, many beneficiaries selected plans in which they pay a fixed amount for a drug, say $20 for a brand-name drug, and that price won't change during the year no matter what wholesale prices do. Moreover, “The poorest of beneficiaries are particularly protected from such increases because their payments are capped at $5 for a brand-name drug” he said.

A CMS analysis of the drug prices Part D beneficiaries are paying, released the day before the Families USA-AARP two-pronged attack, shows they are indeed partly shielded from drug cost increases. On average they will pay $1,100 less this year than they would otherwise. So the plans are negotiating lower prices; Families USA just wants more, more, more.

Further, Medicare eligible seniors “who don’t like Part D can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that has better incentives to manage their complete health care profile in a rationale manner,” says University of Southern California professor of pharmaceutical economics Joel Hay.

Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .

Be the first to read Michael Fumento's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.