McClellan: Part D drug plans getting scaled back

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The federal government will be clipping the wings of some private health insurers taking part in the Medicare prescription drug benefit next year. The insurers no longer will be allowed to offer more than two drug plans, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Mark McClellan.

The insurers were allowed to offer three plans when the Part D benefit began Jan. 1. "Two plans should be sufficient" and cut down on confusion," McClellan said in a Wall Street Journal report. Exceptions might be made for insurers offering plans filling coverage gaps, he added.

Nursing home operators had many residents automatically enrolled in a variety of plans by federal officials. But enrollment of new residents is expected to be an ongoing challenge, consultant pharmacists and other long-term care players believe.