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MedPAC > News > Prescription drugs

Category: Prescription drugs

Factors increasing Part D spending for catastrophic benefits

From 2010 to 2017, Medicare spending on the monthly prospective payments grew rather slowly, and average premiums for Medicare Part D enrollees remained between $30 and $31 per month. However, Medicare spending on reinsurance payments for enrollees with high drug costs grew on average more than 20% per year since 2010. In this blog post, we discuss several factors that have contributed to that high growth in recent years.

MedPAC releases drug briefings

When the Commission began its deliberations on drug policy, which ultimately shaped the contents of the June report, it started with two informational presentations that were intended to provide background and context for its discussions. The Commission is now releasing annotated versions of these presentations to serve as a resource for policymakers.

Slow growth in Part D premiums is only part of the story

At the end of July, CMS announced that enrollee premiums for Medicare’s outpatient prescription drug benefit, known as Part D, will remain stable for 2016 at an average of $32.50 per month. It marks continued good news for Part D enrollees, whose average premiums have remained at about $30 to $32 per month for the past 7 years. However, other trends are more worrisome for the taxpayers supporting the Part D program.

Opioid use among Medicare Part D enrollees

At MedPAC’s October public meeting, the Commission discussed patterns of potentially inappropriate opioid use in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, Part D. In 2011, 10 million beneficiaries, or about 32 percent of Part D enrollees filled at least one prescription for an opioid. The share of Part D enrollees who use opioids in varies considerably across states.