An Echo Chamber: Medicare Part D Works

An Echo Chamber: Medicare Part D Works

08.10.11 | By Kate Connors

You may have noticed that we've been writing a lot about Medicare Part D lately, but with good reason. From lowered nondrug costs to decreased premiums, there are so many successes of the Medicare prescription drug benefit to celebrate these days.

According to new study, published in Health Services Research by researchers from Harvard University through support from PhRMA, found that the increased access to medicines through expanded prescription drug coverage under Part D reduced hospitalization of beneficiaries.

Overall, in 2006 and 2007, the number of hospital admissions declined by 4.1 percent among eight chronic (and relatively controllable) conditions: diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, congestive heart failure, angina, uncontrolled diabetes, asthma, stroke, and acute myocardial infarction.

This represents an estimated annual decline of 42,000 admissions among the study population, and 77,000 annual admissions if the results are applied nationally.

The researchers also found that hospitalization rates for Medicare beneficiaries declined more in states that experienced larger coverage gains due to the implementation of Part D, relative to states with smaller changes in drug coverage.

And, the authors note that this positive impact on hospital admissions might be even larger if more years were included in the study for several reasons, including possible increased adherence as Part D was more widely used and as long-term beneficial effects of some medicines are taken into account.

It's nothing novel - we've seen tremendous successes so far - but cumulatively, from beneficiary satisfaction to averted complications and lowered costs, the program has proven to be an overwhelming success.

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