Experts Say Medicare Part D Helps Beneficiaries, but Changes Are Needed

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<p>Despite the controversy surrounding the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, two-thirds of respondents to the latest <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=23062&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fsurveys%2Fsurveys%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D382509%26%23doc382509">Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey</a> agree that enactment of Part D was on balance good for beneficiaries. The surveyed experts, however, also support basic changes to the law.<br><br>Opinion leaders in the business/insurance/other health care industry sector were most supportive of the law, with 95 percent agreeing it was good for beneficiaries. In academic/research institutions, health care delivery, and other sectors, between 56 and 67 percent of respondents agreed that it was good for beneficiaries. <br><bR>Less than one-third of respondents agreed, though, that making Medicare drug coverage available only through private plans was, on balance, good for beneficiaries. <br><br>Majorities of respondents voiced support for several proposed changes. Fifty-one percent of all respondents, for example, favor extending the enrollment deadline and removing the penalty for late enrollment. Thirty-nine percent favor leaving the deadline in place, but allowing people to enroll in the program next year without penalty. Only 8 percent favor leaving the penalty in place.<br><br>Other changes favored by a majority of respondents are reducing variation among plans and providing better information to beneficiaries, various approaches to filling the coverage gap, and raising the income level required for the low-income subsidy and removing the assets test.<Br><Br>Complete survey results are posted on the Fund's Web site, along with expert commentaries by <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=23063&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D375231%26%23doc375231">John Rother,</a> group executive officer of policy and strategy for AARP, and <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=23061&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D382530%26%23doc382530">Karen Ignagni,</a> president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans.</p>