October 1, 2012

A Harvard University study credits the Medicare Part D program with keeping seniors healthier and saving $12 billion a year in avoided medical costs.

At the same time, the program is running well below what it originally was projected to cost.

Terry voted in favor of the Part D Medicare drug program in 2003.  His opponent says little about the program other than to criticize it.

The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard University and published in a July 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.[1]  It suggests that the drug coverage is enabling seniors to avoid trips to the hospital or placement in nursing homes, saving an estimated $1,200 in other medical costs per year for each senior.  Yearly savings are estimated at $12 billion.  The study focused on seniors who lacked coverage prior to their enrollment in the Part D program.

An Associated Press story on the study showed the effects of the change:  “With subsidized drug coverage, seniors can afford drugs that prevents trips to the emergency room by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and controlling diabetes . . ..”   The AP also noted that the new law generates savings since doctors no longer have to admit Medicare patients to a hospital just so they can obtain, for example, treatments involving injectable clot-busting drugs for deep vein thrombosis.[2]

Terry noted that the Part D law is a resounding success in holding down costs:  federal dollars to the program are 30 percent lower than originally projected.[3]

“Some people, like my opponent, want the government to totally run this program and control all of the drug prices.  That is the wrong approach.  Evidence is very clear that market forces are forcing all of the plans to compete in the marketplace and the result is lower drug costs,” Terry said.