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Smith Seeks Medicare's Continued Coverage of Critical Medications

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Smith Seeks Medicare's Continued Coverage of Critical Medications

As part of his continuing efforts to strengthen the Medicare program, Senator Gordon H. Smith sent a letter this week to Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt expressing concern about the coverage of necessary prescription drugs for those enrolled in Medicare's prescription drug benefit.

Smith led Senate efforts to push the 2008 Medicare improvements bill into law, and fought to include his provision. His policy was intended to strengthen the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's (CMS) authority to require coverage of prescription drugs in the existing six protected classes and allow the Secretary to review and add to these classes as needed. This change would ensure Medicare beneficiaries with complex health conditions receive access to all or substantially all medications needed for treatment. Smith is concerned that the Administration may implement this provision in a manner inconsistent with congressional intent.

"We must get this right for the millions of seniors living with complex medical conditions who cannot afford to have their choices in medications limited or be forced to switch treatments," said Smith. "We must work together to ensure this is implemented properly. Failure to do so will cause harm to millions of people who rely on Medicare for their epilepsy, cancer, HIV/AIDS and mental health treatments."

Smith has worked closely with CMS since 2005 to develop protections for individuals with conditions that require medications with the highest drug and medical costs. He will continue working with Congress and the Administration to ensure the congressional intent regarding the six protected drug classes is adhered to.

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