(Washington, D.C.)–Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) joined with several hundred organizations representing veterans, seniors, and low-income beneficiaries to express the urgent need for Congress to reject the proposal to make harmful changes to the government’s prescription drug program, Medicare Part D.
In a joint letter to Congress, the organizations cite that Medicare Part D is actually performing above expectation, and since its implementation, has cost taxpayers 41 percent less than originally projected. In addition, premiums for beneficiaries are 46 percent less than projected and are expected to decline slightly in 2012, with the average monthly premium remaining around $30. This change would have a negative impact on veterans using both the Tricare for Life program as well as Medicare Part D.
“Clearly, savings need to be achieved within our healthcare system in order to sustain these vital programs for future generations of Americans, but it is our duty to ensure these changes do not harm the very people they are meant to protect,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. “Instead of targeting a program that is actually saving money while providing affordable prescription drug options to seniors, the attention of Congress could be better spent identifying those programs wasting taxpayer’s money.”
If the rebate proposal is implemented, the groups cite that, by some estimates, the premium increase for seniors could rise by 20 to 40 percent. In an attempt to limit premium increases, the groups make the point that prescription drug plans may opt to adjust their formulas, giving seniors and disabled Americans fewer preferred options, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs–costs which many cannot afford and will cause some to forgo treatment.
“Higher costs will cause a breakdown in treatment plan adherence, as seniors opt out of Part D coverage or fail to purchase the drugs they need to maintain their health. This could lead to higher costs in Medicare for hospitalizations and nursing home care. The availability of drug coverage is achieving savings of up to $13 billion a year by keeping more seniors healthier and out of institutional settings, according to recent estimates by Harvard researchers. The rebate plan jeopardizes these savings and the lives they represent,” the groups noted.
Said Rowan, “America’s veterans and seniors have served their country and have contributed their entire working lives to building the wealth of this great nation. Instead of forcing beneficiaries to once again reach into their own pockets, now is the time to preserve the quality of care that supports the health of our veterans, our seniors, and those with disabilities, while providing a sustainable blueprint for the long-term health of our nation. Frankly, our veterans have sacrificed enough.”