CMS: Part D offerings to expand, prices won't

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Medicare Part D drug plan beneficiaries will have access to more changes next year — at this year's prices, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

As previously predicted, average premiums will remain virtually unchanged in 2007. Beneficiaries will have more benefit options, and better coverage for some brand-name and generic drugs, according to new data from CMS.

As many as 83% of Medicare beneficiaries currently enrolled in prescription drug plans will have the ability to switch to a lower-priced plan in 2007, officials said. The number of national plans approved to participate in the program will increase from nine this year to 17 next year.

Some of the new plans are offering features that were requested by beneficiaries, including no deductible or coverage in the so-called "doughnut hole," according to CMS Administrator Mark McClellan. He also noted that the number of variations for basic coverage has decreased.

Critics of the program say increasing the options is simply making things too complicated. New enrollees and those who want to switch current plans can do so from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

For more detailed information about Part D plans, visit http://www.medicare.gov/medicarereform/local-plans-2007.asp#TX.
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