Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., has co-signed a letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging their support of the Medicare Part D Program that some industry watchers fear will be cut in order to fund the 21st Century Cures Act.
Ellmers’s letter from June 17 stressed, “with more than one million senior citizens living in North Carolina, it is imperative that they continue to have access to quality and life-saving prescription drugs. Medicare Part D is a widely successful and popular program that does not deserve to be put on the chopping block. It has provided our seniors with options, choices and an affordable way to purchase prescription drugs since its implementation.”
The 21st Century Cures Act is designed to make it easier to get new drugs approved by the FDA, and, once approved, get them to market faster, as well.
Mark Merritt, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, recently sent a letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee of Ways and Means, urging lawmakers not to cut Medicare to fund the 21st Century Cures Act.
The letter read in part, “while we commend the Energy and Commerce Committee’s goals of promoting innovation in medicine … we think financing this initiative by cutting the very program seniors and disabled American use to access those new medicines is self-defeating.”
“We do think it’s a great bill,” Merritt told American Pharmacy News in a telephone interview. “But if you take money from the Medicare drug benefit, those who need drugs would have difficulty accessing them.”
Merritt added his organization has never had a problem with the bill itself, but rather, how the bill will be paid for. “If the bill passes, it would mean several billion dollars in cuts and that would lead to higher premiums, fewer benefits, or both.”
Merritt also fears if the legislation passes, it could set a dangerous precedent of making additional cuts to Medicare to fund “unrelated programs.”
Last month the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the 21st Century Cures Act but it hasn’t gone before the full House yet.