Medicare Part D still important

To the editor:

Prevent Blindness Ohio’s mission is to prevent the 50 percent of vision loss that is needless and to help Jefferson County and all state residents enjoy good sight for life.

High blood pressure and diabetes are two common but controllable conditions which impact sight, particularly for older adults. High blood pressure can increase the risk for developing glaucoma. Diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy and increases the risk of other eye diseases.

Access to medication is essential for keeping diabetes and high blood pressure in check. In addition, medication is essential for senior Ohioans who suffer from aging eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. In these instances, medication can slow the progression of these blinding eye diseases.

For many Ohio seniors with these vision threats, Medicare Part D is providing reliable and affordable access to these essential medications.

Medicare Part D has helped seniors and those with disabilities since the prescription drug program started in 2006. The program is not only working well for beneficiaries, but also for taxpayers. At a time when health care costs are spiraling out of control, Part D is costing 45 percent lower than projections, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The Journal of the American Medical Association last year said that improved access and adherence to medicines through Part D saves Medicare about $1,200 per year in hospital, nursing home and other costs for each senior who previously lacked comprehensive drug coverage. This translates into about $12 billion per year in savings across Medicare.

Part D is a unique public-private partnership. The federal government manages the program and private insurers administer the plans. The health plans negotiate with pharmacies and drug companies to get the lowest possible prices. This requires health plans to compete for customers, resulting in a wide variety of affordable plan choices.

Medicare Part D premiums are half the amount projected when the program started and remained unchanged between 2011 and 2013. And a 2012 analysis shows that the average price for prescribed drugs purchased through Part D increased by a total of just 1 percent over the program’s first four years.

Medicare Part D works well and is helping to prevent sight loss for many Ohioans. We urge the Ohio members of Congress to maintain the successful Medicare Part D program.

Sherry Williams

President and CEO

Prevent Blindness Ohio