Men's Health Network: Working for Patients, Working for Part D

Men's Health Network: Working for Patients, Working for Part D

11.15.11 | By Greg Lopes

This week, I had a chance to catch up with Scott Williams at the Men's Health Network about the work that they do to promote health and prevention and how they believe that Medicare Part D is helping them play a role in meeting that goal. Read our chat below.
Scott, please tell me a bit more about your organization.
Founded in 1992, Men's Health Network (MHN) is a national non-profit educational organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray (with our focus being on health prevention, screening, patient navigation and advocacy). We work closely with faith-based communities (specifically African-American and Latino communities), federally qualified health centers and various patient-centric organizations, and serve as a resource on matters ranging from prevention and innovation to broader access to quality health care services. More recently, we've partnered with sports and entertainment fields, working with NFL and NBA teams, as well as NASCAR and other organizations.
Our approach is a holistic one given the health challenges facing millions of Americans. We aim to promote the health and well-being of men, boys, and their families however possible.
Men's Health Network has been encouraging Congress not to change the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Can you tell me more about why this is a priority for you?
Medicare Part D has been a tremendous success, especially for our community. It gives seniors access to affordable prescription drugs, allows premiums to remain stable and provides peace of mind that really didn't exist before. It costs taxpayers 41 percent less than we anticipated it might cost. Looking at CMS estimates, the average premium will decrease across 2012. Men, families and caregivers are happy with it, are taking advantage of the benefit and are getting the critical medicine that they need.
Overall, a significant proportion of our constituency relies on Medicare Part D.
How has Part D contributed to the overall health of your membership?
Many of the poor and underserved within our constituency have benefited from greater choice, greater access and options to help prevent chronic disease. We're hearing that not as many seniors are foregoing medications as a result of cost. We've noticed that the Part D program has provided additional support for caregivers (many of whom are seniors themselves). Caregivers have more tools and resources to provide the care that seniors and disabled persons need.
We've hosted a number of community events and programs which have helped to raise awareness of Part D, essentially providing an engagement and empowerment effort for seniors, caregivers, and their families. We often provide free health screenings, enrollment navigators, and educational materials. The goal of this is to help ensure the delivery of high-quality care.
How many events do you have every year?
We host and participate in more than 100 events -- workplaces, churches, stadiums, public health departments, every possible touch point in the community where we can provide a resource to help our members remain healthy.
One issue that has come up quite a bit is the proposal to impose Medicaid-style rebates on Part D. Men's Health Network recently joined with 200 other organizations in citing why this is a bad idea. How would this change impact men's health?
Medicaid-style rebates could seriously reduce choice for patients, as well as take options out of the hands of providers. Our number one priority as it applies to Part D is making sure that patients and providers have everything they need to ensure a high quality of care. Reducing drug and plan choices for patients and providers runs counter to this, especially in light of the program's success.
What can Congress do to help improve the Part D program?
It's clear that the vast majority of beneficiaries are happy with the program, which reinforces the point that Part D can serve as a model for future reforms. Organizations like Men's Health Network can continue to partner with both the public and private sectors to drive awareness and ensure that seniors and disabled Americans are educated. It's a collaboration opportunity, especially among unlikely allies (e.g. business, labor, patients, advocacy groups, etc.), where we can continue to be ambassadors for positive health outcomes.
There's a large and growing role for us moving forward, and we're looking forward to doing our part going forward.

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