Study: Part D cuts costs

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Medicare's young prescription drug coverage program has brought down admissions to nursing homes and hospitals, thereby cutting healthcare costs by $12 billion, researchers say.

Harvard researchers said that by comparing spending trends before and after the benefit began in 2006, they could calculate nondrug savings.

Seniors are living longer, healthier lives, researchers said. “This is an example of how primary and preventive care, and ongoing continuity of care, is important,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “In the old days, before we had a drug benefit, people would skip pills, not take appropriate dosages and wouldn't renew prescriptions because they couldn't afford it.”

The study was published in the July 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.