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AARP Expects Drug Industry to Honor Commitments to Help Close Doughnut Hole

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2010

Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org

AARP Expects Drug Industry to Honor Commitments to Help Close Doughnut Hole

WASHINGTON — AARP Executive Vice President John Rother released this statement today following the release by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of draft guidance for implementing the Medicare Coverage Gap Discount Program:

“The recently released draft guidance is a positive step towards bringing relief from skyrocketing prescription drug costs to millions of AARP members and older Americans in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. This first step begins to close the drug coverage gap or ‘doughnut hole.’ Each year, more than three million people in Medicare Part D fall into the doughnut hole, resulting in many older Americans being forced to choose between either paying bills or skimping on pills.

“We are concerned, however, that the congressional intent to require a 50 percent discount for all brand-name drugs may be thwarted by a potential loophole in the guidance that tries to accommodate this year’s plan deadlines for bids. Millions of seniors are counting on relief in the doughnut hole in 2011—in the form of the discount—and they have been told it is coming. By potentially giving drug manufacturers the option in 2011 of not participating in the program to close the doughnut hole, we risk confusing people in Medicare Part D and greatly raising their distrust of how the program will be implemented. People will also be at risk of spending thousands of dollars in out of pocket expenses for their brand-name medications due to government deadlines that are beyond their control.

“AARP expects drug manufacturers will live up to their pledge to help make their drugs more affordable for the millions of older Americans who depend on them. We will keep a vigilant watch on prescription drug manufacturers, as well as CMS guidance, and will let our members and all Americans know of any manufacturer who fails to honor their commitment to help close the dreaded doughnut hole for people in Medicare.

“Closing the doughnut hole is an important achievement that will help millions of Americans in Medicare Part D and we applaud CMS for working to ensure that brand-name drug manufacturers participate in the discount program. We look forward to working with CMS, Congress and the Administration to ensure full compliance with the 50 percent discount provision in 2011.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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