Sen. Chuck Grassley has received hundreds of letters and calls from Iowans, the majority from patients, with concerns about the Obama Administration’s proposed rule to test new models on how Medicare Part B pays for prescription drugs. The number of letters and calls is expected to increase as more people learn of this policy. This is an unusually high number of contacts over a single Medicare issue. Grassley joined fellow Finance Committee Republicans in calling on the Administration to withdraw the rule. Committee Democrats have called for revisions to the rule. Grassley made the following comment.
“Iowans are worried about access to medicine and an abrupt change in the way they’ve been getting treatment. Some patients may no longer be able to receive their treatment at their doctor’s office. They would have to go to the hospital, where they’d face higher copayments each time they are seen. Rural patients would be hit especially hard because some doctors who treat patients at outreach clinics in rural areas would no longer be able to provide the service. I talked with a doctor who was seeing patients at a clinic in Waterloo that day. Under the proposed rule, those patients might have to drive to the doctor’s office in Des Moines several times a week if they want to continue to receive medicine from him. Traveling to see a doctor is a hardship for those who are battling cancer, arthritis and other serious illnesses. The proposal creates different access based on where a Medicare beneficiary lives. That’s unfair.
“The agency proposed this rule without offering evidence that these changes will improve health care or reduce overall health care costs. Mandatory participation in and the scope of this proposal create a change in policy, not simply a demonstration or pilot. Policy changes that affect millions of Americans should be made in an open and transparent process, not behind closed doors by a few unelected, unaccountable people. The agency proposed this change with little to no input from the affected patients and doctors. Letters to discard this policy went unheeded. The Obama Administration should abandon the proposal and go back to the drawing board.”
The Finance Committee news release and letter are available here.