Consumers Union criticizes Part D assignments

July 30, 2007

The practice of randomly assigning low-income beneficiaries to Part D prescription drug plans could be wasting millions of dollars according to an analysis by Consumers Union

The practice of randomly assigning low-income beneficiaries to Part D prescription drug plans could be wasting millions of dollars according to an analysis by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. A sampling of eight zip codes this week by Consumers Union found that about one-fourth of the plans eligible to be automatically assigned to low-income beneficiaries did not cover six commonly used drugs and had annual co-pays of up to $2,800 a year. In a statement, the group backed a measure being debated by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that is part of the State Children's Health Insurance Plan reauthorization bill. The measure would replace random assignment of low-income Part D beneficiaries with "intelligent" assignment to plans that cover needed drugs and are less costly. "Medicare randomly assigns six million low-income Americans to prescription drug insurance plans without checking to make sure those plans are the best value, or if they even cover the most commonly used drugs," said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union.

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