The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued final rules today pursuant to the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 to implement the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D) and changes to the Medicare Advantage program (Medicare Part C). The final rules are available on the CMS website together with relevant guidance, application forms, and issue papers, and will be published in the Federal Register next week.
The final rules implement one of the most significant changes to the Medicare program since its inception by creating the first outpatient prescription drug benefit for both fee-for-service and managed care Medicare beneficiaries. The final rules also create financial incentives and plan options for employers to continue to offer prescription drug benefits to their retirees. In addition, the final rules expand the Medicare Advantage program by providing for participation by regional PPO plans. According to CMS, the final rules contain major changes from the proposed rules that were published in August 2004.
Watch for additional communications from McDermott on these topics in the near future.