KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicare Part D Premiums To Rise Slightly

Medicare Part D drug premiums are expected to increase slightly while the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services details which states have the highest rates of prescription drug use.

Lawrence Journal World & News reports that "the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offered a small dose of good news Monday." Specifically, according to CMS, most Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in drug plans "will not see significant increases in their premiums in 2010."  The average monthly premium for a standard Part D plan will increase by $2 to $30, or seven percent.  That's less than the 12 percent increase between 2008 and 2009 (Britt, 8/18).

Meanwhile, Forbes reports on state prescription drug use rates: "Much of the American South is ailing, with West Virginia the worst off -- at least, if the rate of prescription drug use is any indication. The state filled 17.7 prescriptions per capita compared to a national average of 11.5, according to Verispan, a health care information company." Other states with drug-use rates above the average include Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Missouri. "In 2008, total sales for prescription drugs reached $291.5 billion, a 1.4% increase from the previous year" (Ruiz, 8/17).

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