NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2016

Statement on the President’s 2017 Budget, by Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center

New York, NY—The President’s 2017 budget advances many worthwhile proposals for people with Medicare and their families. Among these are recommendations to rein in the rising cost of prescription drugs, to align enrollment and appeals processes for low-income beneficiaries, and to advance value-driven delivery and payment system reforms.

We share the President’s deep concern about the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs. We are encouraged by the President’s commitment to transparency and value, expressed through proposals that would allow Medicare to evaluate the effectiveness of high-cost medications and require pharmaceutical companies to disclose information on how prescription drugs are priced. We also continue to strongly support proposals to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for breakthrough medicines, restore Medicare’s ability to benefit from the same manufacturer discounts that Medicaid receives, and accelerate closure of the Part D prescription drug coverage gap (or doughnut hole). These policies represent sensible savings solutions that do no harm to people with Medicare.

We applaud the President for the budget’s focus on key policy improvements critical to the most vulnerable. The President’s request includes proposals to simplify the appeals process for beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and to align enrollment processes for federal assistance programs that help people with Medicare afford Part B and Part D premiums and cost sharing. These proposals would alleviate known barriers to accessing needed health care services for low-income beneficiaries.

While there are many recommendations in the President’s final budget request to celebrate, we remain deeply concerned by proposals that would shift the burden of higher health care costs to low-income and middle class beneficiaries, such as policies to further means test Medicare premiums, add a home health copayment, increase the Part B deductible, and hike brand name drug copayments for low-income beneficiaries.

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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.

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