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So far, experts like what they see in Part D

Health care opinion leaders so far think Medicare Part D is a success, though changes are needed to the program, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund. Between June 1 and June 19, 1,246 health care experts were solicited online, with 180 responding.

Commenting on the survey, Karen Ignagni, of America's Health Insurance Plans, calls the drug benefit "one of this country's most remarkable success stories...." Though she, too, believes that more can be done.

"Now that the first-ever Part D enrollment period has ended, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"

Percent saying agree or strongly agree

Enacting Medicare Part D was, on balance, good for beneficiaries

The current benefit structure, which includes a coverage gap, will, on balance, help beneficiaries who are most vulnerable to high drug costs

Making Medicare drug coverage available through private plans only was, on balance, good for beneficiaries

"Please select which change, if any, would be your highest priority."

Percent saying agree or strongly agree

Fill in the coverage gap by some combination of increased copayments and additional government funding

Eliminate the assets test needed to qualify for a low-income subsidy

Allow plans to offer coverage through the coverage gap as an option to the enrollee, with an additional premium, without pushing back the catastrophic coverage threshold

Raise the income level needed to qualify for a low-income subsidy

None of these

Source: The Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey, July 2006

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