generally modest (1 0- 13% see GAO,
Prescription Drugs: Prices Available Through Discount Cal-ds and From Other Sources
December 2001). Nonetheless, it is believed that any discount helps those ~rith limited resources. While these cards have the potential to offer cost relief. the Kaiser Family foundarlon found that comparisons among cards are challenging due to the lack of standardization in price reporting (differing discount methodologies and lhe units of medicine), the different combinations of drugs offered by different cards and differing discounts among those drugs, general access to information, ability to assess the value of additional pharmaceutical management services. and acceptability of mail- order services (Kaiser Family Foundation,
Prescription Drug Discount Cards: Current Programs and Issues
February 2002). And since the onset of the recent manufacturer cards. varying eligibility requirements make enrollment for low-income people cumbersome and time consuming in order to access this valuable product.
To address the discrepancy between medical practice
Medicare coyerage, the President proposed adding a full prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries in his Fiscal Year 2002 and 2003 budget, and the Administration is actively engaged in work with the Congress to pass a prescnprion benefit. As an interim step, the Administration also has proposed the Medicare-Endorsed Prescription Drug Card Assistance Initiative. With regard to the provision of discount drug cards, thls initiative would give discount card sponsors meeting certain criteria market leverage for their drug card through a Medicare endorsement and provide for standardized comparisons on discounts and prices among discount cards. Notwithstanding the importance of improving the supply-side of the market, a critical and equal component of the initiative must include an education campaign to improve the efficiency of market demand. CMS can improve access to and reduce the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries by educating them about prescription drug discounts and the benefits, use. and availability of discount drug cards. The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services published a Notice of Proposed Rule making in the
Wednesday, March 6,2002, Vo1.67 (44): 1026
0293 entitled Medicare Program: Medicare-Endorsed Prescription Drug Card and Drug Discount Card Assistance Initiative. The proposed rule describes the parameters of the current card initiative and provides additional important background information.
is available to the public from the Federal Register Online via GAO Access (wais.access.gpo.gov). [Docid: fro6mr02-101. CMS is in the process of issuing a final rule for this program. CMS has conducted limited research on beneficiaries' perceptions and use of discount drug cards and possible Medicare endorsement to date. This research has included testing of the interpretation, form, and location of a Medicare endorsement logo to support draft marketing guidelines; assessing attitudes about eligibility and interest in discount drug cards; product testing of a brochure describing the drug card program; and product testing of the
Medicare Prescription Drug Assistance Program
which is a fairly comprehensive listing of available discount drug card programs with search functionality by drug manufacturer on www.medicare.gov. The history of the Medicare-Endorsed Prescription Drug Assistance
includes prior court proceedings to stay the implernentatior, ofthis program, and the possibility remains that CMS's final rule may experience further judicial review. In spite of such a possibility, CMS believes that this research is important, if not forimmediate implementation, then for long-term policy planning. There 2