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 CMS Says Medicare Part D Premiums to Decline for Second Straight Year

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said the average basic premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2019 is projected to decline, marking the second consecutive year for lower Part D premiums.

CMS said the basic Part D premiums are projected to drop from $33.59 this year to $32.50 next year.
The agency cited several moves it has made as reasons for the decline in Part D premiums, which they note have come at the same time health insurance premiums continue to increase across most market segments.

“Earlier this year, CMS announced several changes in the Part D program aimed at further empowering Part D plans to drive a hard bargain with drug manufacturers and lower the cost of prescription drugs,” the agency said, in a statement. “CMS has been working to ensure that Medicare Part D plans can leverage all of the tools that are available to commercial plans in negotiations.”
Some of these changes CMS has made to enhance the Medicare program’s bargaining power include:
  • ​Reducing the maximum amount that low-income beneficiaries pay for certain innovative medicines known as “biosimilars.”
  • Allowing for certain generic drugs to be substituted onto plan formularies more quickly during the year, so beneficiaries immediately benefit and have lower cost sharing.
  • Increasing competition among plans by removing the requirement that certain Part D plans have to “meaningfully differ” from each other, making more plan options available.
  • Increasing competition among pharmacies by clarifying the “any willing provider” requirement, to increase the number of pharmacy options that beneficiaries have.
The annual Medicare open enrollment period for 2019 begins on Oct. 15, 2018, and ends on Dec. 7, 2018.
For more information, visit the CMS website​.
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