ARTICLE | Politics & Policy

Senators ask CMS to reconsider Part D changes

February 7, 2014 1:55 AM UTC

The Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner asking CMS not to change the six "protected drug classes" under Medicare Part D. Under Part D, "all or substantially all" drugs in the protected classes -- immunosuppressants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals, cancer treatments and anticonvulsant agents -- must be covered. In January, CMS issued a proposed rule change that would remove immunosuppressants and antidepressants as protected drugs starting in 2015. According to the rule, the move would save Medicare about $720 million in 2016-19 (see BioCentury Extra, Jan. 6).

In their letter, the senators said that narrowing the number of treatments that need to be covered within a given class may mean patients will need to switch treatments, which could lead to reduced adherence and increased costs. "If beneficiaries do not have access to needed medications, costs will be incurred as a result of unnecessary and avoidable hospitalizations, physician visits, and other medical interventions that are otherwise preventable with proper adherence to medication," they wrote. The letter was signed by all 24 members of the committee. ...