DES MOINES, Iowa – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a rule that several conservatives in Iowa say would significantly limit or ration access to drugs for critical conditions such as mental health, epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, organ transplants, and cancer. They are calling for the protection for these treatments that fall under the “six protected classes” of drugs.
The proposed rule states that Medicare could “exclude a protected class drug from a formulary if the price of the drug increased beyond a certain threshold over a specified look-back period.”
The protected classes of drugs under Medicare Part D are treatments for patients who require very specific care and need a variety of available options to find the drug that gives them the best result.
The goal of implementing price controls is to save money, but the rule, opponents warn, could prevent Medicare Part D recipients access to live-saving drugs they may need. Changes in the preapproval process or the need to switch to a different plan will add time, money and energy for the patients facing difficult health conditions.
This rule was first suggested under the Obama Administration in 2014. After pushback from social conservatives and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, CMS rescinded the rule.
Several prominent Iowa conservatives in an open letter to President Donald Trump and Iowa’s U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst urge them to oppose the change. CMS will make a final decision by the end of the month.
“We applaud the Administration for its attempts to lower drug costs and government spending, we have strong concerns with this proposal and its impact on those with life-threatening conditions. You have been strong voices in standing up for policies that are in the best interest of Americans. We hope you will continue to do the same with this policy,” the letter reads in part.
“Any proposal to reduce the availability of medications would impose pre-authorization and step therapy to the already complicated and challenging health care regimen. These patients should be focusing their time and energy on fighting their already difficult disease on their road to recovery, not figuring out how they can survive through a new system with restrictive access to critical treatments,” they note.
“Limiting the approved treatments can threaten the very livelihoods of patients. Furthermore, this type of proposal is a government overreach in personal health care decisions. This type of rationing policy that to limit access to drugs on the marketplace leads down the road of a government-run health care system,” they add.
Signers of the letter include conservatives such as Christian activist Denise Bubeck, former congressional candidate Ginny Caligiuri, Iowa Right to Life Executive Director Caitlyn Dixon, Iowa Federation of Republican Women President Gloria Mazza, Iowa’s National Republican Committeeman and Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition President Steve Scheffler, Iowa Coalition for Life President Sue Martinek, Iowa GOP State Central Committee member Barbara Hovland and her husband Tom, Pottawattamie County Republican activist Naomie Corrie, Linn County Republican activist Kathy Pearson, GOP consultant and pro-life activist Marlys Pompa, and pro-life advocates Luana and Stephen Stoltenberg.
Read the full letter below: