A bipartisan group came out with another survey showing that Medicare Part D is just about the greatest thing the government’s done in a generation.
The survey of 2,363 seniors ages 65 and older, conducted by KRC Research and Medicare Today, showed that 90 percent of seniors surveyed are currently satisfied with the Medicare prescription drug coverage they receive. That’s the highest level of satisfaction on record, and the survey found both Republicans and Democrats surveyed were equally happy with it. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said without the program, they wouldn’t be able to fill their doctor’s prescriptions.
David Kendall, senior fellow for health and fiscal policy at Third Way, said on a call with reporters that the Medicare prescription drug benefit was a key example of successful bipartisanship because it was “enacted by Republicans and perfected by Democrats…Republicans left a doughnut hole, and Democrats have successfully fought to fill it.” He also noted that the program is currently coming in under original cost projections and studies have shown that prescribing drugs bring down other health care costs for patients: Harvard researchers found that the Part D program saves Medicare about $1,200 per year for each senior who previously did not have good drug coverage through lower hospital, nursing home, and other costs. Even though drugs cost money upfront, they reduce spending downstream through fewer surgeries or other medical procedures.
Grace-Marie Turner, the Galen Institute’s president, said, “The key is that [Part D] really continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of competition and consumer choice.”
These studies are new testaments that private sector health plans, when aggressively regulated, can deliver on a tremendous public good at a cost lower than anticipated — Part D has consistently come in $100 Billion less than projected when it became law. It’s one of the best things the government has done in decades — and Congress should keep their paws off it as the fiscal cliff approaches.