MEDICARE REPORTS HIGH RESPONSE BY COMPANIES TO SPONSOR APPROVED DRUG DISCOUNT CARDS
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today announced that 106 applications have been submitted to offer Medicare-approved discount drug cards to beneficiaries beginning in June.
“This is an enthusiastic response by companies to sponsor money-saving drug discount cards for Medicare beneficiaries,” said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. “These cards will provide beneficiaries the confidence of a Medicare-approved product, and the savings will be especially important for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The cards will begin delivering some savings this year, while Medicare's new prescription drug benefit is being put into place.”
Medicare expects to announce endorsed drug card sponsors in early spring, and Medicare beneficiaries will be able to begin enrolling in Medicare-endorsed card programs in early May. CMS is currently reviewing the applications.
“We are excited by the number of companies and organizations who have come forward to help beneficiaries buy their prescription drugs at lower costs,” said CMS Acting Administrator Dennis Smith. “The robust level of interest from potential card sponsors demonstrates commitment for a program that will enable beneficiaries who need these cards to begin saving on the cost of their medicines in a few short months.”
There are two basic types of cards that will be available to Medicare beneficiaries – one for any qualifying beneficiary who lives in the service area covered by the card, and one only for enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans. About half of the applications received are for the first type of card and about half of those are proposing to offer a national card. The remaining applications are for card programs for managed care enrollees and would cover only the plans’ service areas.
The Medicare-endorsed Prescription Drug Discount Card program is part of the comprehensive Medicare Modernization Act signed into law last December. The MMA also includes a Medicare prescription drug benefit that will begin in 2006.