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McClellan’s rose colored glasses

Director of the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services Mark McClellan was up on Capitol Hill yesterday testifying on Part D, conveying the message that all was going better, improvements were being made, and the cost of the program was lower than anticipated.
When one remembers that McClellan is the brother of White House press secretary Scott, his facile comments and ability to re-interpret reality are more understandable.
I’m reminded of the comments whispered to me by the mother of the young lad named “most improved” at a youth football dinner: “he was so bad at the start of the season that just running without falling down was a huge improvement”. While the Part D program is nowhere near running, and has yet to even advance beyond the crawling stage, it is likely to improve. That’s the good news. The bad news is the fatal flaw of adverse selection, discussed here ad nauseum, but still eluding the denizens of Capitol Hill.
One highly contentious issue continues to be the law preventing HHS from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices. According to ABC News; Sen. Snowe (R ME) and what a great name for a senator from Maine…
“questioned the way the program was working and pushed for legislation that would allow the government to negotiate for better drug prices. The initial legislation included no such provision, an omission that at the time was seen as a boon to drug companies.
Snowe and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., have drafted bipartisan legislation that would give government the power to negotiate prices.
I can’t imagine why we’d spend $700 billion on this benefit and not allow the secretary to maximize the taxpayers’ money,” Snowe said.
Me neither.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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