HHS Wants to Move Slowly on Transitioning Medicare Part B Drugs to Rx Benefit
Although shifting some Medicare Part B drugs to Part D could stoke competitive pressures on pharmaceutical pricing, the HHS does not recommend consolidating the coverage until the Medicare prescription drug benefit has had a chance to get up and running, according to a new report.
Transitioning coverage of Part B drugs to the Part D program, which kicks off in 2006, involves a set of highly complex issues that warrant further study, the HHS report states. Part B drugs are usually administered in doctors' offices while Part D drugs, which comprise the bulk of the Medicare drug benefit, are distributed through pharmacies.
There are only a few categories of Part B drugs that are similar to the medications that will be covered under Part D, according to the report to Congress, titled "Transitioning Medicare Part B Covered Drugs to Part D."
"Given that the movement of any drugs from Part B to Part D would only add to the complex task facing potential drug-plan sponsors in developing an initial bid and in administering the new Part D benefit, we do not recommend that such changes be considered until we have at least two years of experience with the Part D program," the report concludes.