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Majority of health care opinion leaders say Medicare Part D helps beneficiaries, changes are needed

New York City, July 14, 2006 -- Two-thirds of respondents to the latest Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey agree (strongly agree or agree) that enactment of Part D was on balance good for beneficiaries, but majorities also support basic changes to the law. Opinion leaders in the business/insurance/other health care industry sector were most supportive of the law, with 95% agreeing it was good for beneficiaries, while 56% to 67% of respondents in academic/research institutions, health care delivery, or other sectors said it was good for beneficiaries.

Fewer than one-third (30%) of respondents agreed that making Medicare drug coverage available only through private plans was, on balance, good for beneficiaries. About one-third (36%) agree that the current benefit structure--including a "coverage gap" during which most enrollees are responsible for all of their covered costs--will, on balance, help beneficiaries who are most vulnerable to high drug costs.

Respondents were asked about approaches to address problems with the structure and complexity of the benefit, with majorities voicing support for several proposed changes. Just 8 percent of all respondents favored leaving the deadline and penalty for late enrollment in place, although 22 percent of the business/insurance/or other health care industry sector respondents favored this option. Fifty-one percent of all respondents favor extending the enrollment deadline and removing the penalty, while 39 percent favor leaving the deadline in place, but allowing people to enroll in the program next year without penalty (39%).

Three-fourths (77%) of respondents agreed that benefits should be more standardized to reduce variation among plans, and 69 percent said better information on cost-sharing and formulary structure should be provided to beneficiaries. Only 2 percent said the system should be left as it is.

In a commentary on the survey findings, "The Medicar
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
14-Jul-2006


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