The University Record, March 25, 2002

Assembly sees loose ends in Rx plan

By Martin May

Questions and concerns about the 2003 prescription drug benefit changes, made public in the March 11 issue of the Record, were raised at the Senate Assembly meeting March 18.

One point of contention is a difference in co-payments. While preferred brand name drugs have a $14 co-payment, the co-payment for non-preferred brand name drugs is $24. The co-payment for generic drugs is $7. Under the new plan, an oversight committee, directed by the executive officers, will review which drugs are included on the preferred and non-preferred lists.

Charles Koopman, professor of medicine and SACUA member, said that this review process for preferred and non-preferred drugs seems arbitrary and may amount to “bean counting.”

Koopman said that some people may prefer the brand name drug over the generic for a number of reasons. “Compliance is a part of [the drug’s] efficacy,” he said.

“Side effects also need to be better addressed,” Koopman said. For instance, the only drug without adverse side effects for a patient may be on the more expensive non-preferred brand name list, he said.

In a letter to SACUA chair Mojtaba Navvab, Interim Provost Paul N. Courant says, “We are moving ahead with the implementation of the prescription drug program and the oversight committee.” The letter continues, “The program will most certainly evolve over time and issues such as those raised in your recent letter will be addressed as the program evolves.”

In response to the letter, some Senate Assembly members voiced concern that the issues they’ve raised may not be examined fully and that any changes to the new plan will be fixed on the run.

“I think the cost of appeals will negate the $24 cost savings,” said John Riebesell, associate professor in natural sciences at U-M–Dearborn. Riebesell said that the appeals process is one area that needs to be examined because it is potentially time-consuming, lengthy and costly.

For more information on the 2003 prescription drug plan, visit the Web at www.umich.edu/~urecord/0102/Mar11_02/2.htm.