Amid the torrent of criticism aimed at Medicare reform proposals based on private plan competition and cuts to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans (to the tune of $206 billion) in the President’s government takeover of healthcare law, it’s worth noting how Medicare Part D is doing these days.
In describing how Medicare Part D expenditures have been “substantially lower” than initial projections, CMS Actuary Richard Foster testified to the House Budget Committee recently “we expected strong competition among Part D plans, but we assumed it would take a few years for the competition to build up and reach its full level. In practice, the competition was strong from the very beginning, with negotiated retail discounts and manufacturer rebates achieving the best levels prevailing at that time almost immediately.”
In fact, the 2011 CBO Medicare Part D baseline forecasts and actual recorded spending show costs for Part D benefit payments have declined by 46% for the 2004 to 2013 period compared with initial estimates of the 10-year cost projections for those years.
Moreover, CMS has announced that the base Part D monthly premium is expected to decrease from $32.34 in 2011 to $31.08 in 2012.
And public opinion survey data from October show that Medicare Part D enrollees have overwhelmingly positive views toward their Part D Rx coverage. A few examples:
 “Annual Release of Part D National Average Bid Amount and other Part C & D Bid Related Information,” CMS Office of the Actuary, August 3, 2011, https://www.cms.gov/MedicareAdvtgSpecRateStats/Downloads/PartDandMABenchmarks2012.pdf.
 KRC Survey for Medicare Today, “Seniors’ Opinions About Medicare Rx: Sixth Year Update,” October 2011, http://www.hlc.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Oct-2011-KRC-Medicare-Today-Survey-of-Seniors-with-Medicare-Rx-10-14-11-FINAL1.pdf.
 KRC Research has conducted this Medicare Rx opinion survey since the Spring of 2006. More than 80% satisfaction has been maintained since the Fall of 2006. Since Fall 2007, more than half of respondents have reported annually being “very satisfied.” In the case of seniors who have actually received medicines, more than 90% annually since the Spring of 2006 have said their plan “works well.”