Yesterday NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons participated in a media teleconference centering around Medicare Part D and the fiscal cliff. Medicare Part D, the popular prescription drug aspect of the Medicare program, has been mentioned in talks about the fiscal cliff and as a way to reduce spending. The message of the call, hosted by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC), was to avoid ‘fixing what ain’t broke.’

Medicare Part D is wildly popular among seniors and set to come in at 43% under budget. Additionally studies show that if Part D is altered to impose Medicaid-style rebates, it would raise costs for Medicare beneficiaries, increase costs for employers, and ultimately reduce the availability of medication to seniors. On top of that, 200,000 jobs could be lost in the process.

NAM has joined with 400 other organizations to stand up and tell Congress and the Administration that they should keep the focus on reforming the entitlement programs where it’s so badly needed and to leave programs that actually work alone.

Below you can find the remarks given by Mr. Timmons on the call.

Thanks to the CAHC for hosting this call today. I know there are people on the call who will discuss the specific policy implications of altering the Medicare Part D program, so I’d like to use my time to share some thoughts from the broader perspective of the business and manufacturing communities.

It’s really no secret, and the last campaign bears this out, that every candidate was talking about the importance of manufacturing. America is facing a severe challenge, and taxpayers, businesses and families are looking to our leaders in Washington to provide real solutions that won’t cause additional harm to our fragile economy and end up pushing us off the fiscal cliff.

In the case of Medicare Part D, the so-called solution to extend Medicaid-style rebates to the Part D program will only weaken an entire pro-growth industry, result in higher health care costs and lead to the loss of good, high-paying jobs at a time when America’s employers are already facing way too much uncertainty.

Biopharmaceutical research and manufacturers truly represent one of the most vibrant and dynamic sectors of American manufacturing. All told, they are directly responsible for employing more than 650,000 Americans. The industry also has an extremely high multiplier effect, with studies showing each biopharmaceutical job supports nearly five additional jobs outside of the industry. This is an area of our economy we need to encourage, not punish in order to fix a program that’s not broken and that has helped millions of American senior citizens live longer, healthier lives. As an example, one study estimates that the effect of imposing a rebate onto Medicare Part D, similar to recent proposals, could result in 200,000 jobs lost.

Medicare Part D is an amazing example of a federal government program that is actually working, providing a valuable service that keeps costs down for the taxpayers and for Medicare beneficiaries. The policymakers should hold up the program as an example of how government can do a better job and not use it as a bargaining chip.

Part D already provides significant discounts through competition in the marketplace, and those savings are passed directly on to consumers in the form of low premiums and drug costs. Shifting costs onto employers, Medicaid and beneficiaries will only serve to take money out of the productive private sector at a time when we can least afford it. For this reason, the National Association of Manufacturers today joins with nearly 400 business, patient, provider and veteran organizations in urging Congress not to move forward with a proposal that would damage this very successful program.

There’s no doubt our government needs to make some difficult choices in the weeks and months ahead in order to get us back on the right track.  But putting even more Americans out of work and burdening a program that is actually working shouldn’t be a part of any solution to the fiscal cliff.

 

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