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CMS Announces Final Rates for Medicare Drug, Health Plans

Program updates for 2014 designed to lower beneficiary costs, increase value

THURSDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the 2014 rate announcement and final call letter for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug benefit Part D programs.

The updates in the final rate announcement and final Call Letter ensure the program's stability while offering more value and protections against increasing premiums and health care costs.

Among the key revisions are: lower out-of-pocket drug spending ($310 deductible and $4,550 out-of-pocket limit) for the standard prescription drug benefit compared to 2013 as well as expansion of coverage for enrollees who reach the coverage gap, or so called doughnut hole; protection from significant increases in costs or cuts in benefits from year to year with a $34 per member per month limit to permissible increases; an assumption of no change to the 2014 physician fee schedule due to the likely override of the payment reduction by Congressional action; and improved coordination of care.

"The policies announced today further the agency's goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice," Jonathan Blum, the acting principal deputy administrator of CMS, said in a statement.

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