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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Happy Birthday, Medicare Part D! 10-Year Anniversary of Landmark Law is Dec. 8

December 5, 2013 | Medicare | Comments
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On December 8, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA), which established the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Program known as Medicare Part D. In creating the first-ever outpatient prescription drug benefit under Medicare, the law closed a significant gap in health insurance coverage for Medicare beneficiaries.

This Sunday marks the 10-year anniversary of Medicare Part D. Over the last 10 years, more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries – about 32 million people – have come to rely on Medicare Part D for necessary, life-saving prescription medications. Research, reports, surveys, and polls have demonstrated that the program is working well for beneficiaries: it improves health, provides choice and saves money. Multiple studies have linked access to prescription drugs through Part D to improved health outcomes and decreased spending in other areas of the Medicare program. Furthermore, the cost to administer the program has been 30% less than the Congressional Budget Office estimate.

Key to the program’s success is the “six protected classes” provision, which ensures that consumers have access to all or substantially all drugs in the following therapeutic classes:

  • Anti-psychotics
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-retrovirals
  • Anti-neoplastics
  • Anti-convulsants
  • Immunosuppresants

Ongoing congressional support has been vital to the success of the six protected classes language and the enhanced access to treatment it offers to consumers with mental health and other covered conditions. The National Council thanks Congress for its support of this important provision and pledges to work side-by-side with Members of Congress and their staff to build upon the successes of Medicare Part D and further improve the program for vulnerable individuals.