Senator: Is Medicare drug plan vulnerable to exploitation?

WASHINGTON – A senior senator wants to know if Medicare’s prescription drug benefit is vulnerable to manipulation by pharmaceutical companies that set very high prices for medications.

In a letter Monday to Medicare’s top administrator, Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, said policymakers must ensure the Part D prescription program serving some 38 million beneficiaries “is free from exploitation,” and asked if it meets that test as currently structured.

Grassley acted after The Associated Press reported on Medicare data that show spending for high-cost drugs covered under the program’s “catastrophic” protection jumped by 85 per cent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015.