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New Poll: Seniors Strongly Concerned That Proposed Medicare Part D Changes Result in Higher Premiums, Government Costs

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Senior registered voters enrolled in Medicare Part D will be less likely to support the reelection of their members of Congress and presidential candidates if those elected officials back proposals eliminating prescription drug negotiations and price concessions that would result in Part D premium increases, according to a new poll from North Star Opinion Research released by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).

The findings confirm that seniors are overwhelmingly satisfied with their Medicare Part D plan, while only 25 percent had heard about proposed changes that will result in premiums increasing by up to 25 percent and government costs by $196 billion.

"This poll shows that seniors are highly satisfied with Medicare Part D and their own plans," said PCMA President and CEO JC Scott.  "As policymakers decide how to strike the appropriate balance between premiums and out-of-pocket costs, it is essential that PBMs continue to be empowered to negotiate and deliver savings. Otherwise, the proposed safe harbor rule risks granting drugmakers greater bargaining power and a greater ability to raise costs."

PCMA recently launched a new campaign – "Protect the Savings" – to defend Medicare and Medicaid savings achieved through prescription drug rebates negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The campaign informs policymakers and the public how the Administration's proposed regulation gutting PBM negotiations would hurt beneficiaries and taxpayers.  

Below (and here) are topline results from the new poll:

A national live caller telephone survey of 800 senior registered voters who are enrolled in Medicare Part D on March 6-11, 2019 found that these voters are evenly split politically, are overwhelmingly satisfied with their Part D drug plans, say they cover the drugs they need and are convenient to use, and they are satisfied with their out-of-pocket payments.

Senior voters with Part D plans have largely not heard about proposed changes to Part D, however, and will punish supporters of these changes at the polls if they result in increased premiums.  By double-digit margins, these voters say it is a bad idea to eliminate rebates and say the rebates reduce, rather than increase, costs.

Key findings from the survey, with a margin of error of ±3.46 percent, are:

1.         Senior voters with Part D prescription drug plans are overwhelmingly satisfied with their plan.  These voters say they are satisfied with their plan by an 83 to 14 percent margin.  Further, they say the plans cover the drugs they need by an 82 to 12 percent margin, are convenient to use by a 92 to 5 percent margin, have a satisfactory number of pharmacies by a 90 to 6 percent margin, and they are satisfied with their out-of-pocket costs by a 67 to 30 percent margin.

2.         Only a quarter of seniors say they have seen, read, or heard something recently about proposed changes to Part D.  Just 25 percent of these seniors have heard about proposed changes, while 73 percent have not heard anything.

3.         By a 20-point margin, senior voters with Part D plans say it is a bad idea to eliminate drug rebates in negotiations between health plans and drug manufacturers.  These voters say it is a bad idea to eliminate rebates by a 45 to 25 percent margin, even though they approach a split in the more general question of whether it is a good or bad idea for the federal government to regulate negotiations between private companies (43 percent bad idea to 40 percent good idea).

4.         Given competing arguments on the effect of drug rebates on costs, senior voters say the rebates reduce costs.  When presented with these arguments:

a) Rebates drive up the cost of prescription drugs because they force the drug manufacturers to increase their list prices so they can then give rebates to health insurance plans that provide drug benefits to consumers.

b) Rebates reduce the cost of prescription drugs because they force the drug manufacturers to compete with other manufacturers to keep costs low and be included in the list of covered drugs for consumers by health insurance plans that provide drug benefits for consumers.

Senior voters say the rebates reduce costs by a 41 to 31 percent margin.

5.         Two statements regarding the proposed elimination of rebates are particularly compelling.  Senior voters are less likely to support the elimination of rebates by a 44 to 26 percent margin when they hear that, "The Department of Health and Human Services admits that this plan will increase premiums for seniors by 25 percent," are less likely to support the elimination of rebates by a 37 to 23 percent margin when they hear that, "Eliminating rebates in Part D negotiations will increase the cost to taxpayers by $196 billion."

6.         These senior voters will be less likely to support the reelection of their senators and representatives and of President Trump if those elected officials support eliminating rebates and their premiums increase.  Despite a 40 to 39 percent split on the generic ballot, seniors would be less likely to support their senator or representative by a 44 to 6 percent margin if they support this plan to eliminate rebates and their premiums increase.  Similarly, the seniors would be less likely to support President Trump's reelection by a 32 to 11 percent margin if he supports the change and their premiums increase.

PCMA is the national association representing America's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). PBMs administer prescription drug plans for more than 266 million Americans who have health insurance from a variety of sponsors including: commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, union plans, Medicare Part D plans, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), state government employee plans, Medicaid plans, and others.

 

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SOURCE Pharmaceutical Care Management Association