The Corner

The White House’s Attack on Medicare’s Prescription-Drug Plans Is Obamacare 2.0

“A year of action” is what President Obama has promised for 2014. Unfortunately for middle-class families and America’s seniors, some of the action he has in mind means less opportunity, more regulation, and even bigger broken promises.

Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs for senior citizens, is one of the few government health-care programs that has demonstrated success in increasing coverage, reducing costs, and improving the health of its beneficiaries. The Obama administration’s new regulations threaten this achievement.

Part D has worked so well because it is more market-oriented than most health programs. But the administration appears to want to remake it in the image of Obamacare — inserting the federal government into negotiations between prescription-drug providers and pharmacies, limiting the number of prescription-drug plans an insurance company can offer, and putting an end to the preferred pharmacy networks that have dramatically reduced costs for America’s seniors.

If these changes are allowed to go through, Medicare Part D will begin to look like Obamacare 2.0, complete with even more broken promises — this time to our nation’s seniors:

If you like your plan, you can keep it. President Obama’s Lie of the Year in 2013, about Obamacare, will only be compounded by the proposed changes to Medicare Part D, which could force as many as many as 14 million seniors out of their current prescription-drug plans.

It will bring down premiums for the typical family. Implementing the proposed regulations could increase family premiums by as much as $200 to $300 a year for seniors who have taken advantage of preferred-provider networks like the ones created by Humana-Walmart, Aetna, and AARP.

It will not raise the federal deficit by one penny. Implementing the proposed Medicare Part D regulations threatens to increase federal Medicare spending by $7.9 to $9.3 billion with the elimination of preferred-pharmacy networks.

Conservatives should stand against the new Medicare Part D rule changes to prevent Obamacare 2.0 from taking hold. A program that has a proven record of increasing prescription-drug coverage for seniors, leveraging competition to reduce costs, and improving the health of America’s seniors should be emulated, not dismantled.

— April Ponnuru is policy director for the YG Network.

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