The CMS released details of a demonstration program expanding drug coverage for 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries with serious illnesses and disabilities, including various cancers, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis. The program, mandated by the new Medicare law, will cover certain drugs and biologicals that patients administer at home, replacing drugs given at a physician's office and currently covered under Medicare Part B. Bush administration officials said the Medicare Replacement Drug Demonstration will result in 90% savings for patients in some cases. In addition, avoiding physician visits and intravenous injections may reduce Medicare costs and medical complications as well as ease access to treatment. The CMS plans a forum June 29 for patient advocacy groups, physicians and drugmakers so they can help beneficiaries apply for the project. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 30, and participants subsequently will be selected through a lottery. The demonstration project will end when the new Medicare Part D drug benefit takes effect in 2006. -- by Julie Piotrowski
CMS details drug-benefit demonstration project
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