The new CMS rule would continue to prohibit government interference in negotiations between plans and manufacturers, but would for the first time permit government interference between plans and pharmacies. The rule would then proceed to interfere, with a new "any willing pharmacy" requirement that would prohibit preferred cost-sharing arrangements that many plans and pharmacies have negotiated as a way to contain costs.
The bottom line impact of the proposed rule, according to a study by the American Action Forum, is that 14 million seniors could lose their current plans, premiums could rise up to 21 percent, and costs to taxpayers could be as high at $10 billion over the next decade. A coalition of 371 groups across the political spectrum has urged the rule to be withdrawn.
With planning for the 2015 bid cycle already well underway, even the existence of the proposed rule is creating enormous uncertainty and is therefore likely to result in fewer choices and higher prices for seniors even if the rule is not finalized. For that reason, it is critical that Congress step in now and unambiguously stop the rule.
H.R. 4160, the "Keep the Promise to Seniors Act" sponsored by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina would do exactly that. The Senate should take it up immediately after it passes the House.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.