HHS: Most Part Medicare Part B drugs not good for Part D coverage

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Only a handful of categories of Medicare Part B drugs are suitable for shifting to the new Medicare drug benefit, according to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Even for those deemed suitable, however, Congress should wait at least two years to allow federal contractors time to get experience administering the new Part D program, the report said.

The report said that some switches to Part D would save beneficiaries money but also cost the Medicare program more. Report to Congress: Transitioning Medicare Part B Covered Drugs to Part D, is a study required by Congress in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.

Currently, Part B covers all flu, pneumococcal and hepatitis vaccines for certain beneficiaries. They should remain with Part B because all are essentially "incident to" provider services. But all other vaccines should be covered by the new drug benefit, according to the report, which can be found at
http://www.cms.hhs.gov/researchers/reports/2005/RTC_PtbtoPtD.pdf.