NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2019

Inefficient Medicare Part D Appeals Process Can Result in Dangerous Medication Delays      
The “Streamlining Part D Appeals Process Act” Must be Enacted Immediately, Recommends the Medicare Rights Center

Washington, DC—The Medicare Rights Center applauds Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Cornyn (R-TX) for introducing the bipartisan Streamlining Part D Appeals Process Act (S. 1861).

The bill would eliminate unnecessary steps in the Medicare Part D appeals process, making the system less burdensome for people with Medicare, providers, and plans. Specifically, the Cardin-Cornyn bill would simplify the process for Part D enrollees who experience medication denials at the pharmacy counter.

Currently, when beneficiaries are told at the pharmacy counter that their Part D plan will not cover a prescription, they must then work with their prescribing physician to file an exception request with the plan. Only upon receipt of a written denial in response to this request—called a “coverage determination”—may the beneficiary request a formal appeal from the plan.

“This multi-step process is overly onerous for all involved,” said Fred Riccardi, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a national consumer service organization. “It requires people with Medicare to correspond with both their plan and their prescriber on multiple occasions, which may involve many phone calls and long wait times, often up to several days. For many older adults and people with disabilities, this is dangerously too long to go without needed medication.”

The Cardin-Cornyn bill would streamline this process—limiting delays in beneficiary access to needed therapies and reducing administrative requirements for plans and prescribers—by allowing a denial at the pharmacy counter to qualify as a coverage determination.

The Medicare Rights Center strongly supports this legislation.

“Year after year, questions concerning access to affordable prescription drugs are a top trend on Medicare Rights’ National Consumer Helpline,” said Riccardi. “We consistently observe that many Part D enrollees struggle to navigate the highly complex appeals process—resulting in delays in access to needed prescriptions, abandonment of prescribed medications, reduced adherence to treatment protocols, worse health outcomes, and higher costs.

The Streamlining Part D Appeals Process Act’s sensible efficiencies would help address these challenges. We thank Senators Cardin and Cornyn for their leadership and urge lawmakers to pass this bill without delay.”

The bill text is available here.

Press Contact: Mitchell Clark – mclark@medicarerights.org

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

Available only through the Medicare Rights Center, Medicare Interactive (MI) is a free and independent online reference tool that provides easy-to-understand answers to questions posed by people with Medicare, their families and caregivers, and the professionals serving them. Find your Medicare answers at www.medicareinteractive.org.

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