No need to mess with Part D success
Jonathan Walker’s Drugs’ high cost traced to Medicare limits (July 21) mischaracterizes the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and several proposed policies.
Part D is a rare government program that costs less than initially projected, and future projections continue to be revised downward. At the same time, beneficiaries are highly satisfied with the program.
Despite Walker’s claims, robust negotiation already occurs between Part D plans and manufacturers. This market-based approach creates savings. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has stated that Part D plans tend to negotiate rebates that are higher than average rebates negotiated by commercial plans.
Additionally, Walker’s recommendation to allow the government to negotiate drug prices would have a negligible effect unless beneficiary access to medicines were further restricted – a point the CBO has repeatedly confirmed.
Lastly, the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2013 could seriously undermine the operation of Part D. CBO has warned that imposing Medicaid-style rebates in Part D could increase beneficiary premiums; others have cautioned that it could lead to reduced choices, higher co-pays and more restrictive formularies.
Part D is a unique market-based program that promotes access and controls costs. Before suggesting changes, let’s consider the value Part D delivers to both beneficiaries and taxpayers.
JOHN J. CASTELLANI President & CEO Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Washington, D.C.
Medicare bigger success than doctor suggests
Dr. Jonathan Walker writes (July 21) that when Medicare Part D was enacted, drug companies successfully lobbied to forbid Medicare from bargaining over drug prices, and therefore whatever price the drug company wants to charge, that is the price that we must pay.
This is in fact the opposite of the truth. Under Part D, numerous companies operate drug benefit plans. Each bargains with drug companies to obtain the best prices it can and then submits a bid to Medicare, specifying the price it will charge to provide the basic Part D benefit and any additional benefits they offer. Medicare pays about three-quarters the national average bid and Medicare beneficiaries pay the difference.
Walker claims that Medicare is the only insurance provider on the planet that is forbidden to negotiate over drug prices, and this has contributed to the escalating costs for all new medications. This is technically half true but 100 percent misleading. Instead of Medicare negotiating over drug prices, Medicare uses an auction process to induce drug plan operators to do the negotiating for them. And rather than contribut(ing) to the escalating costs, this has saved hundreds of billions of dollars for both beneficiaries and taxpayers.
ROBERT A. BOOK Health economist and senior research director Health Systems Innovation Network Washington, D.C.
Zimmerman is free; justice system worked
With the George Zimmerman trial over, it is time to move on. Justice was done. He was arrested, tried and a jury acquitted him. The liberals didn’t like it, so they will not let it rest. Only when a verdict goes their way will they be happy. Let those who would keep this case going get over it and move on. The American justice system did its job this time.
WILLIAM R. TROEHLER Fort Wayne
Bible affirms sanctity of heterosexual marriage
As a Catholic theologian, I feel compelled to respond to the letter written by Austin Eicher (Golden Pen winner, July 21) decrying those who publicly oppose homosexuality. Eicher criticizes Christians for their fixation on a Levitican transgression.
Actually, the biblical condemnation of homosexual acts is not limited to the Old Testament. Equally strong condemnations occur in the New Testament. Most important, however, is the teaching of Jesus, who affirms the complementary of man and woman as definitive for conjugal union: Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one?’ (Matthew 19:4-5).
Those who condemn homosexual acts are not throwing stones at homosexuals; they are merely being faithful to biblical teaching on human sexuality. Eicher considers this bigotry. I teach this same biblical teaching to my students. Does this make me a bigot?
In addition, Eicher speaks of homosexuals as the only target that remains somewhat acceptable. Recent events belie this assertion. In the state of Washington, a Christian florist was sued by the state for refusing to supply flowers to a homosexual wedding. A Christian bakery now faces similar action in Colorado. Christians in the military are being subjected to disciplinary action for publicly criticizing homosexuality. If there is an acceptable target, it is faithful Christians.
JOHN P. BEQUETTE Associate professor of theology University of Saint Francis
Not all riders equal at Children’s Fest
My family came up from Texas for a long-awaited visit. I checked out the Three Rivers Festival Guide for things that would be fun to do. The Children’s Fest looked to be just the thing. I had never attended but saw there would be many activities, including free rides. My granddaughters are 8, 4 and 2. Imagine our disappointment when the older two girls were told they could not go on any rides as they were too tall. Only the 2-year-old went on the airplane ride as her sisters stood and watched. Maybe next year the name could be changed to Toddler Fest.
JILL MACHINENA Fort Wayne
Erratic trash pickup frustrates homeowner
It’s frustrating with all the problems going on in the world that I have to write a letter about basic city services.
Over the last several months, we have not had proper service with regard to our garbage pickup. While 311 may be an award-winning service – they do a great job of answering the phone – to have to wait two additional days for garbage pickup is ridiculous. We have contacted 311 several times, and we have called Waste Management several times.
I would like to leave my garbage on the steps at Citizens Square; however, I was informed that this is considered illegal dumping (to me it would be a peaceful protest) and prudence begs me not to. I simply would like the garbage in my alleyway picked up on a regular basis, not every other week or every third week. That isn’t too much to ask for services paid for by a homeowner.
I would hope that the next administration has the foresight to change service providers.
ALAN CONRAD Fort Wayne