Medicare Part D plans get more flexibility to make midyear changes


Other changes in the rule eliminate requirements that sponsors eliminate plan offerings unless they “meaningfully differ” from one another, allowing plans to offer more choices to beneficiaries, and potentially more cost-saving options to meet their needs. It also clarifies rules regarding the “any willing provider” requirement to allow for more pharmacy options available to Part D enrollees and allow them to shop for best deals for their pharmaceuticals.

In combination with the final 2019 call letter that provides Medicare Advantage and Part D sponsors with the guidelines for submitting their plan designs for the coming coverage year, the rule also finalizes policies related to stemming the opioid crisis, including providing tools to help prevent opioid overprescribing and abuse. The rule implements provisions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 that require CMS to supply a framework that allows Part D sponsors to implement drug management programs to limit at-risk beneficiaries’ access to coverage for frequently abused drugs.

For example, plans will be allowed to limit at-risk beneficiaries to selected physicians and/or pharmacies to receive their prescriptions, although it will exempt patients who are being treated for cancer-related pain, are receiving palliative or end-of-life care, or are in hospice or long-term care from these drug management programs.

CMS also is limiting the availability of special enrollment periods for beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid or eligible for the low-income subsidy who are identified as at-risk or potentially at-risk for prescription drug abuse.

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