AAFP Statement: Family Physicians Applaud PhRMA Agreement to Lower Prescription Costs for Elderly

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Statement attributable to:
Ted Epperly, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Nearly 45 years ago, the U.S. government recognized that our elderly – often the most vulnerable among us – could not get the health care they needed. Congress responded with the passage of legislation that created Medicare.

“We have come a long way since then. The 2006 implementation of Medicare Part D improved senior citizens’ access to the medications that treat chronic conditions and help maintain their health. Despite that progress, millions of elderly patients faced a gaping break in prescription coverage, known as the annual “doughnut hole,” in which they paid the full cost of their prescriptions that exceeded $2,700 but did not reach $6,154.

“Today we take another step forward with the agreement between the pharmaceutical industry and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chair of the Senate Finance Committee that is ushering health reform legislation through the U.S. Senate.

“According to this agreement, pharmaceutical companies will provide $80 billion to cover up to half the cost of brand-name medicine for patients who fall into the doughnut hole in Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program. At the same time, the entire price of those medications purchased through this program would count toward the beneficiary’s out-of-pocket costs.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds this agreement. As a part of successful health reform legislation, this effort by pharmaceutical companies serves elderly patients, contributes to controlling health care costs and helps ensure continuity of care for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Editor’s Note: To arrange an interview Ted Epperly, MD, contact Leslie Champlin, at 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

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