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Dems: "Complete" Drug Plans Should Fill Donut Hole

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Senate Democrats say some Medicare Part D prescription plan sellers are using misleading plan names.

In a letter to Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, and 13 other Democratic senators are asking Leavitt to make sure that carriers do not use words such as “complete”, “premier plus” or “gold” in connection with Part D plans unless the plans fill the gap in Part D benefits known as the “donut hole.”

The donut hole affects Part D plan enrollees who use up everyday prescription benefits but have not yet spent enough on prescriptions to qualify for catastrophic coverage.

The senators write in their letter that some plans described as “complete” or with terms such as “gold” fail to provide much relief for enrollees who use up the everyday benefits.

“Although several of these plans do cover generic drugs in the donut hole, seniors in these plans will have to pay 100% of the cost out-of-pocket for brand name products,” the senators write. “How can a plan be called ‘complete’ when it contains a gap in drug coverage?”

The senators say Medicare Part D marketing guidelines should be revised to ensure that plan names are not confusing or misleading.

“In addition,” the senators write, “if a plan contains a gap in coverage, it should be required to disclose this gap in all of its marketing materials.”

In addition to Dorgan, the list of senators who signed the letter includes Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; and Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who was re-elected as an independent in the recent mid-term elections after losing a Democratic primary, also signed the letter.


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