U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said Congressional Democrats’ plans to change Medicare prescription drug benefits by federalizing it and eliminating the free-market negotiation model we use now, "turned the corner and bumped into reality" this week.
"I’ve received dozens of calls and letters from Wyoming seniors who don’t want Congress to interfere with their prescription drug plan because their plan is working for them. Today the independent Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the proposed changes would do little to save anybody money," Enzi said. "We have already implemented a plan that is working. We don’t need meddling for the sake of meddling or a new system conjured up for political convenience."
About 89 percent of seniors in Wyoming are receiving prescription drug coverage, an increase of 16 percent from last year. Five separate surveys show that more than 75 percent of beneficiaries are satisfied with the program.
"The program is working, why are some in Congress so intent on ‘fixing’ something that isn’t broken?" said Enzi.
Democrats in the House proposed and passed H.R. 4, which would hand over drug price negotiations to a government agency. This switch from the market-based negotiations that seniors benefit from now would allow prices to be fixed on Medicare prescription drugs and could lead to nationwide limits on the drugs available to seniors and the disabled. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up similar legislation today. The Senate bill is less dramatic than the House proposal. The Senate version would allow instead of require government price manipulation, but Enzi said free market negotiation will yield better results for seniors.
"Making sure the government does not interfere by price fixing protects seniors and the disabled from having the government decide which drugs their doctors can prescribe. It maintains the sacred relationship that seniors have with their doctors, who know best about what particular drugs are right for their patients. Patients support this language and they want us to maintain it," said Enzi.
Enzi said the Medicare Part D prescription drug program has proven to have better benefits than the Veteran’s Affairs health program and many veterans have enrolled in Part D. If the Democrats’ proposal passes Congress Medicare Part D prescription prices will become more controlled, like the VA health program, according to Enzi.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that 1.4 million beneficiaries have enrolled in Medicare’s Part D program since the benefit took effect on January 1, 2006, bringing the total number of people with Medicare now receiving comprehensive prescription drug coverage to more than 39 million.