Medicare Weekly News for February 7, 2006

Media Relations: Tel: 202-326-1726

MEDIA ALERT

New Study Says Patients with Chronic Conditions Save Under Medicare Rx Benefit

February 7, 2006 – Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions can expect average savings of between $400 (one chronic condition) to $1,774 (four or more chronic conditions) annually on prescription drugs under the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to a new National Health Council (NHC) study.

Savings from the Medicare Drug Benefit for Beneficiaries with Chronic Conditions (www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/medicare) projected savings under the Medicare drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries with nine common chronic diseases: Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, mental disorder, osteoporosis and Parkinson's disease. The report is based on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data analyzed by The Lewin Group, a healthcare policy research firm.

The study corroborates existing data that many Medicare beneficiaries have chronic conditions. Eighty-six percent of those in the NHC study had at least one chronic condition, 66 percent had two or more, and 40 percent had three or more chronic conditions.

Beneficiaries with chronic conditions are more likely than those without to face annual drug spending that exceeds $5,100, qualifying them for Medicare’s catastrophic drug-cost coverage.

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The Medicare Rx Education Network provides information and assistance with outreach and enrollment for the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. The network, which includes 70 national organizations, is chaired by former U.S. Senator John Breaux. Members share an interest in educating Medicare beneficiaries about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and work closely with the appropriate federal agencies to obtain up-to-date information to ensure that information disseminated by the network about Medicare Part D is factual and accurately conveyed, thereby pre-empting confusion about the benefit and equipping beneficiaries and their caregivers to make informed choices. By sharing information with each other about member organizations’ independent efforts, collaborating on activities, and identifying ways to work together, the network aims to eliminate duplication of efforts and maximize the effectiveness of outreach efforts. The network does not engage in legislative activities or take positions on pending legislative or administrative policies related to the Part D benefit and its implementation.

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