Feds issue marketing rules for Medicare Part D

September 26, 2005

Pharmacists and potential plan sponsors finally got the ground rules from Uncle Sam on how they can market prescription drug plans (PDPs) to Medicare beneficiaries, who can begin enrolling in Part D on Nov. 15.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued the guidelines to set standards that plan sponsors must follow. The goal is to protect beneficiaries from unscrupulous or overzealous sales tactics, while enabling them to get the information they need to make choices, according to the agency.

The guidelines "encourage pharmacists to play an active role in assisting beneficiaries in an objective assessment of the beneficiaries' needs and potential plan options that may meet those needs," said Larry Kocot, CMS senior policy adviser to the Medicare Plan Policy Group in an e-mail. "The guidelines should not unduly burden the pharmacists' communications with their patients. We believe that the guidelines strike the right balance."

Fuller's sentiments were echoed by Bruce Roberts, R.Ph., executive VP-CEO, National Community Pharmacists Association. "Stopping door-to-door solicitation, spam, and unwanted telemarketing are welcome protections for the senior population our community pharmacists serve," he added.

The CMS marketing guidelines can be found on the CMS Web site at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/pdps/PrtDPlnMrktngGdlns.asp.