Monday, February 27, 2006

House Public Health reviews Medicare Part D

During its February 15 meeting, the House Public Health Commitee heard testimony from James Randolph Ferris, MD (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dallas Region VI Office) and Albert Hawkins (Commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services Commission). Hawkins' testimony was accompanied by a set of slides, which are available online at the HHSC website. Committee members questioned when Texas could expect reimbursement for the state's costs in funding the glitches in transitioning clients from Medicaid to Medicare; additional workload placed on state agencies because of the system change--and problems; the clawback provision's sticker shock; cost impacts on pharmacies; costs to consumers; and other matters. You can listen to the entire hearing online (scroll down to the February 15, 2006, meeting).

Observations:

  • Aside from all the numbers and dollars and "working hard" statements being tossed around, a major thread is the reliance on computers for data exchange. One can't help but wonder at both the complexity of the problem, which apparently wasn't anticipated, and the scale of the confidentiality issues that lurk in the background.
  • McReynolds and Truitt seemed to be the heavy hitters on questioning the programs, but DeLisi wins the (virtual) prize for questioning health outcomes.
  • At about 1:21 on the broadcast, Hawkins decided to toss in the information that there would be savings on HIV medications as a result of Medicare Part D. This tidbit came in an excess of zeal, I would say, to respond to Laubenberg's questions regarding the Kidney Health Program and projected savings (~$6 million for the biennium) as he tried to show additional savings thanks to Part D. Information from the Texas HIV Medication Program suggests otherwise, however.

No comments: