The Campaign for Modern Medicines (@Modernmeds) and Eli Lilly & Company (@LillyPad) will host two separate Tweetchats on Medicare Part D to "help raise awareness on the value of the current system, and to learn how to prevent potential changes to it." As reported by PhRMA in a blog post (see "Join the Chatter on Medicare"), "the first chat will be held on Thursday, Oct. 13th from 4-4:30PM EST, with Bart Peterson, Sr. Vice President of Lilly Corporate Affairs & Communication" and the second will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 19th at 9-9:30AM EST "to share your thoughts on the economic implications of proposed changes to Part D, with President of Lilly USA, Dave Ricks as host." Join the conversation using the hash tag #mmeds.
The latter chat is a milestone because it is the first time ever that the president of a pharmaceutical company will host an open Twitter chat.
Recall that the first ever PHARMA Twitter chat was hosted by Astrazeneca in February, 2011 (see "OMG! AstraZeneca Hosts Twitter Chat & World Does NOT End!"). The subject of that #rxsave chat was how to "raise awareness about helping patients save money through prescription savings programs." The discussion was led by Jennifer McGovern, the director of the AZ&Me prescription savings programs.
Eli Lilly is on a campaign to block any changes in Medicare that implement price controls in the prescription drug payment section (Part D) of Medicare. "A new congressional super committee has been charged with raising the debt ceiling and eliminating more than $1 trillion in spending by the end of the year," noted Lilly's Amy O'Connor -- Associate Consultant, Channel Payer Marketing, Managed Healthcare Services; @ambro93 -- in a blog post (see "If It’s Not Broke… Preserving Medicare Part D"). "One of the current proposals includes instituting a Medicaid-like government price control in Medicare Part D."
What Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies are concerned about is a proposal to add Medicaid-style rebates to the Medicare Part D program that has been introduced in Congress by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The proposal (S.1206 - Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2011) would require drug manufacturers to provide drug rebates for drugs dispensed to low-income individuals under the Medicare prescription drug benefit program.
Meanwhile, a congressional deficit-reduction panel has a Nov. 23 deadline on what cuts, if any, to make to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and other entitlement programs.
Thus, there is an ad hoc coalition of industry and senior citizen groups (ie, PhRMA and AARP) opposed to changes in Medicare: the industry doesn't want to see rebates and seniors don't want to see cuts to benefits or raising premiums.
@lilypad tweeted: "Hope you can join @Modernmeds for a Twitter chat on #Medicare tomorrow [ie, TODAY] at 4:00. Ask questions now via #mmeds"
As of now there are no pre-chat questions on the #mmeds list, so I will ask a few that address ideas for keeping Medicare solvent aside fro instituting rebates. such as:
"What's Lilly's position viz-a-viz republican proposals to privatize Medicare or raise premiums for higher-income seniors?" Another question I have is "To reduce the deficit, should the gov't raise the age of Medicare eligibility to 67 from 65?"
I encourage readers to ask their own questions and join the chat later today.