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Medicare Part D: successes and continuing challenges. Impact of Medicare Part D on Massachusetts health programs and beneficiaries.


On January 1, 2006, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented the Medicare Drug Benefit, or "Medicare Part D." The program offers prescription drug coverage for the one million Medicare beneficiaries in Massachusetts. Part D affects Massachusetts state health programs and beneficiaries in a number of ways. The program: (1) provides prescription drug insurance, including catastrophic coverage, through a choice of private prescription drug plans (PDPs) or integrated Medicare Advantage (MA-PD) health plans; (2) shifts prescription drug coverage for dual-eligible Medicare / Medicaid beneficiaries from Medicaid to Medicare Part D drug plans; (3) requires a maintenance-of-effort, or "clawback" payments from states to CMS designed to capture a portion of states' Medicaid savings to help finance the benefit; (4) offers additional help for premiums and cost sharing to low income beneficiaries through the Low Income Subsidy (LIS); and (5) provides a subsidy to employer groups that maintain their own prescription drug coverage for retired beneficiaries. This paper summarizes the activities involved in implementing Medicare Part D, the impact it has had on Massachusetts health programs, and the experiences of beneficiaries and others conducting outreach and enrollment. The data are drawn from interviews with officials and documents provided by state health programs, CMS and the Social Security Administration, and representatives of provider and advocacy groups involved in the enrollment and ongoing support of Medicare beneficiaries.

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