42 USC 1395w104 - Beneficiary protections for qualified prescription drug coverage

(a) Dissemination of information 

(1) General information 

(A) Application of MA information 
A PDP sponsor shall disclose, in a clear, accurate, and standardized form to each enrollee with a prescription drug plan offered by the sponsor under this part at the time of enrollment and at least annually thereafter, the information described in section 1395w–22 (c)(1) of this title relating to such plan, insofar as the Secretary determines appropriate with respect to benefits provided under this part, and including the information described in subparagraph (B).
(B) Drug specific information 
The information described in this subparagraph is information concerning the following:

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(i) Access to specific covered part D drugs, including access through pharmacy networks.
(ii) How any formulary (including any tiered formulary structure) used by the sponsor functions, including a description of how a part D eligible individual may obtain information on the formulary consistent with paragraph (3).
(iii) Beneficiary cost-sharing requirements and how a part D eligible individual may obtain information on such requirements, including tiered or other copayment level applicable to each drug (or class of drugs), consistent with paragraph (3).
(iv) The medication therapy management program required under subsection (c) of this section.
(2) Disclosure upon request of general coverage, utilization, and grievance information 
Upon request of a part D eligible individual who is eligible to enroll in a prescription drug plan, the PDP sponsor offering such plan shall provide information similar (as determined by the Secretary) to the information described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of section 1395w–22 (c)(2) of this title to such individual.
(3) Provision of specific information 

(A) Response to beneficiary questions 
Each PDP sponsor offering a prescription drug plan shall have a mechanism for providing specific information on a timely basis to enrollees upon request. Such mechanism shall include access to information through the use of a toll-free telephone number and, upon request, the provision of such information in writing.
(B) Availability of information on changes in formulary through the Internet 
A PDP sponsor offering a prescription drug plan shall make available on a timely basis through an Internet website information on specific changes in the formulary under the plan (including changes to tiered or preferred status of covered part D drugs).
(4) Claims information 
A PDP sponsor offering a prescription drug plan must furnish to each enrollee in a form easily understandable to such enrollees
(A) an explanation of benefits (in accordance with section 1395b–7 (a) of this title or in a comparable manner); and

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(B) when prescription drug benefits are provided under this part, a notice of the benefits in relation to
(i) the initial coverage limit for the current year; and
(ii) the annual out-of-pocket threshold for the current year.

Notices under subparagraph (B) need not be provided more often than as specified by the Secretary and notices under subparagraph (B)(ii) shall take into account the application of section 1395w–102 (b)(4)(C) of this title to the extent practicable, as specified by the Secretary.

(b) Access to covered part D drugs 

(1) Assuring pharmacy access 

(A) Participation of any willing pharmacy 
A prescription drug plan shall permit the participation of any pharmacy that meets the terms and conditions under the plan.
(B) Discounts allowed for network pharmacies 
For covered part D drugs dispensed through in-network pharmacies, a prescription drug plan may, notwithstanding subparagraph (A), reduce coinsurance or copayments for part D eligible individuals enrolled in the plan below the level otherwise required. In no case shall such a reduction result in an increase in payments made by the Secretary under section 1395w–115 of this title to a plan.
(C) Convenient access for network pharmacies 

(i) In general The PDP sponsor of the prescription drug plan shall secure the participation in its network of a sufficient number of pharmacies that dispense (other than by mail order) drugs directly to patients to ensure convenient access (consistent with rules established by the Secretary).
(ii) Application of TRICARE standards The Secretary shall establish rules for convenient access to in-network pharmacies under this subparagraph that are no less favorable to enrollees than the rules for convenient access to pharmacies included in the statement of work of solicitation (#MDA90603R0002) of the Department of Defense under the TRICARE Retail Pharmacy (TRRx) as of March 13, 2003.
(iii) Adequate emergency access Such rules shall include adequate emergency access for enrollees.
(iv) Convenient access in long-term care facilities Such rules may include standards with respect to access for enrollees who are residing in long-term care facilities and for pharmacies operated by the Indian Health Service, Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations (as defined in section 1603 of title 25).
(D) Level playing field 
Such a sponsor shall permit enrollees to receive benefits (which may include a 90-day supply of drugs or biologicals) through a pharmacy (other than a mail order pharmacy), with any differential in charge paid by such enrollees.
(E) Not required to accept insurance risk 
The terms and conditions under subparagraph (A) may not require participating pharmacies to accept insurance risk as a condition of participation.
(2) Use of standardized technology 

(A) In general 
The PDP sponsor of a prescription drug plan shall issue (and reissue, as appropriate) such a card (or other technology) that may be used by an enrollee to assure access to negotiated prices under section 1395w–102 (d) of this title.
(B) Standards 

(i) In general The Secretary shall provide for the development, adoption, or recognition of standards relating to a standardized format for the card or other technology required under subparagraph (A). Such standards shall be compatible with part C of subchapter XI of this chapter and may be based on standards developed by an appropriate standard setting organization.
(ii) Consultation In developing the standards under clause (i), the Secretary shall consult with the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs and other standard setting organizations determined appropriate by the Secretary.
(iii) Implementation The Secretary shall develop, adopt, or recognize the standards under clause (i) by such date as the Secretary determines shall be sufficient to ensure that PDP sponsors utilize such standards beginning January 1, 2006.
(3) Requirements on development and application of formularies 
If a PDP sponsor of a prescription drug plan uses a formulary (including the use of tiered cost-sharing), the following requirements must be met:
(A) Development and revision by a pharmacy and therapeutic (P&T) committee 

(i) In general The formulary must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. A majority of the members of such committee shall consist of individuals who are practicing physicians or practicing pharmacists (or both).
(ii) Inclusion of independent experts Such committee shall include at least one practicing physician and at least one practicing pharmacist, each of whom
(I) is independent and free of conflict with respect to the sponsor and plan; and
(II) has expertise in the care of elderly or disabled persons.
(B) Formulary development 
In developing and reviewing the formulary, the committee shall
(i) base clinical decisions on the strength of scientific evidence and standards of practice, including assessing peer-reviewed medical literature, such as randomized clinical trials, pharmacoeconomic studies, outcomes research data, and on such other information as the committee determines to be appropriate; and
(ii) take into account whether including in the formulary (or in a tier in such formulary) particular covered part D drugs has therapeutic advantages in terms of safety and efficacy.
(C) Inclusion of drugs in all therapeutic categories and classes 

(i) In general The formulary must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered part D drugs, although not necessarily all drugs within such categories and classes.
(ii) Model guidelines The Secretary shall request the United States Pharmacopeia to develop, in consultation with pharmaceutical benefit managers and other interested parties, a list of categories and classes that may be used by prescription drug plans under this paragraph and to revise such classification from time to time to reflect changes in therapeutic uses of covered part D drugs and the additions of new covered part D drugs.
(iii) Limitation on changes in therapeutic classification The PDP sponsor of a prescription drug plan may not change the therapeutic categories and classes in a formulary other than at the beginning of each plan year except as the Secretary may permit to take into account new therapeutic uses and newly approved covered part D drugs.
(D) Provider and patient education 
The PDP sponsor shall establish policies and procedures to educate and inform health care providers and enrollees concerning the formulary.
(E) Notice before removing drug from formulary or changing preferred or tier status of drug 
Any removal of a covered part D drug from a formulary and any change in the preferred or tiered cost-sharing status of such a drug shall take effect only after appropriate notice is made available (such as under subsection (a)(3) of this section) to the Secretary, affected enrollees, physicians, pharmacies, and pharmacists.
(F) Periodic evaluation of protocols 
In connection with the formulary, the sponsor of a prescription drug plan shall provide for the periodic evaluation and analysis of treatment protocols and procedures.

The requirements of this paragraph may be met by a PDP sponsor directly or through arrangements with another entity.

(c) Cost and utilization management; quality assurance; medication therapy management program 

(1) In general 
The PDP sponsor shall have in place, directly or through appropriate arrangements, with respect to covered part D drugs, the following:
(A) A cost-effective drug utilization management program, including incentives to reduce costs when medically appropriate, such as through the use of multiple source drugs (as defined in section 1396r–8 (k)(7)(A)(i) of this title).
(B) Quality assurance measures and systems to reduce medication errors and adverse drug interactions and improve medication use.
(C) A medication therapy management program described in paragraph (2).
(D) A program to control fraud, abuse, and waste.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as impairing a PDP sponsor from utilizing cost management tools (including differential payments) under all methods of operation.

(2) Medication therapy management program 

(A) Description 

(i) In general A medication therapy management program described in this paragraph is a program of drug therapy management that may be furnished by a pharmacist and that is designed to assure, with respect to targeted beneficiaries described in clause (ii), that covered part D drugs under the prescription drug plan are appropriately used to optimize therapeutic outcomes through improved medication use, and to reduce the risk of adverse events, including adverse drug interactions. Such a program may distinguish between services in ambulatory and institutional settings.
(ii) Targeted beneficiaries described Targeted beneficiaries described in this clause are part D eligible individuals who
(I) have multiple chronic diseases (such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and congestive heart failure);
(II) are taking multiple covered part D drugs; and
(III) are identified as likely to incur annual costs for covered part D drugs that exceed a level specified by the Secretary.
(B) Elements 
Such program may include elements that promote
(i) enhanced enrollee understanding to promote the appropriate use of medications by enrollees and to reduce the risk of potential adverse events associated with medications, through beneficiary education, counseling, and other appropriate means;
(ii) increased enrollee adherence with prescription medication regimens through medication refill reminders, special packaging, and other compliance programs and other appropriate means; and
(iii) detection of adverse drug events and patterns of overuse and underuse of prescription drugs.
(C) Development of program in cooperation with licensed pharmacists 
Such program shall be developed in cooperation with licensed and practicing pharmacists and physicians.
(D) Coordination with care management plans 
The Secretary shall establish guidelines for the coordination of any medication therapy management program under this paragraph with respect to a targeted beneficiary with any care management plan established with respect to such beneficiary under a chronic care improvement program under section 1395b–8 of this title.
(E) Considerations in pharmacy fees 
The PDP sponsor of a prescription drug plan shall take into account, in establishing fees for pharmacists and others providing services under such plan, the resources used, and time required to, implement the medication therapy management program under this paragraph. Each such sponsor shall disclose to the Secretary upon request the amount of any such management or dispensing fees. The provisions of section 1396r–8 (b)(3)(D) of this title apply to information disclosed under this subparagraph.
(d) Consumer satisfaction surveys 
In order to provide for comparative information under section 1395w–101 (c)(3)(A)(v) of this title, the Secretary shall conduct consumer satisfaction surveys with respect to PDP sponsors and prescription drug plans in a manner similar to the manner such surveys are conducted for MA organizations and MA plans under part C of this subchapter.
(e) Electronic prescription program 

(1) Application of standards 
As of such date as the Secretary may specify, but not later than 1 year after the date of promulgation of final standards under paragraph (4)(D), prescriptions and other information described in paragraph (2)(A) for covered part D drugs prescribed for part D eligible individuals that are transmitted electronically shall be transmitted only in accordance with such standards under an electronic prescription drug program that meets the requirements of paragraph (2).
(2) Program requirements 
Consistent with uniform standards established under paragraph (3)
(A) Provision of information to prescribing health care professional and dispensing pharmacies and pharmacists 
An electronic prescription drug program shall provide for the electronic transmittal to the prescribing health care professional and to the dispensing pharmacy and pharmacist of the prescription and information on eligibility and benefits (including the drugs included in the applicable formulary, any tiered formulary structure, and any requirements for prior authorization) and of the following information with respect to the prescribing and dispensing of a covered part D drug:
(i) Information on the drug being prescribed or dispensed and other drugs listed on the medication history, including information on drug-drug interactions, warnings or cautions, and, when indicated, dosage adjustments.
(ii) Information on the availability of lower cost, therapeutically appropriate alternatives (if any) for the drug prescribed.
(B) Application to medical history information 
Effective on and after such date as the Secretary specifies and after the establishment of appropriate standards to carry out this subparagraph, the program shall provide for the electronic transmittal in a manner similar to the manner under subparagraph (A) of information that relates to the medical history concerning the individual and related to a covered part D drug being prescribed or dispensed, upon request of the professional or pharmacist involved.
(C) Limitations 
Information shall only be disclosed under subparagraph (A) or (B) if the disclosure of such information is permitted under the Federal regulations (concerning the privacy of individually identifiable health information) promulgated under section 264(c) of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
(D) Timing 
To the extent feasible, the information exchanged under this paragraph shall be on an interactive, real-time basis.
(3) Standards 

(A) In general 
The Secretary shall provide consistent with this subsection for the promulgation of uniform standards relating to the requirements for electronic prescription drug programs under paragraph (2).
(B) Objectives 
Such standards shall be consistent with the objectives of improving
(i) patient safety;
(ii) the quality of care provided to patients; and
(iii) efficiencies, including cost savings, in the delivery of care.
(C) Design criteria 
Such standards shall
(i) be designed so that, to the extent practicable, the standards do not impose an undue administrative burden on prescribing health care professionals and dispensing pharmacies and pharmacists;
(ii) be compatible with standards established under part C of subchapter XI of this chapter, standards established under subsection (b)(2)(B)(i) of this section, and with general health information technology standards; and
(iii) be designed so that they permit electronic exchange of drug labeling and drug listing information maintained by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Library of Medicine.
(D) Permitting use of appropriate messaging 
Such standards shall allow for the messaging of information only if it relates to the appropriate prescribing of drugs, including quality assurance measures and systems referred to in subsection (c)(1)(B) of this section.
(E) Permitting patient designation of dispensing pharmacy 

(i) In general Consistent with clause (ii), such standards shall permit a part D eligible individual to designate a particular pharmacy to dispense a prescribed drug.
(ii) No change in benefits Clause (i) shall not be construed as affecting
(I) the access required to be provided to pharmacies by a prescription drug plan; or
(II) the application of any differences in benefits or payments under such a plan based on the pharmacy dispensing a covered part D drug.
(4) Development, promulgation, and modification of standards 

(A) Initial standards 
Not later than September 1, 2005, the Secretary shall develop, adopt, recognize, or modify initial uniform standards relating to the requirements for electronic prescription drug programs described in paragraph (2) taking into consideration the recommendations (if any) from the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (as established under section 242k (k) of this title) under subparagraph (B).
(B) Role of NCVHS 
The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics shall develop recommendations for uniform standards relating to such requirements in consultation with the following:
(i) Standard setting organizations (as defined in section 1320d (8) of this title)[1]
(ii) Practicing physicians.
(iii) Hospitals.
(iv) Pharmacies.
(v) Practicing pharmacists.
(vi) Pharmacy benefit managers.
(vii) State boards of pharmacy.
(viii) State boards of medicine.
(ix) Experts on electronic prescribing.
(x) Other appropriate Federal agencies.
(C) Pilot project to test initial standards 

(i) In general During the 1-year period that begins on January 1, 2006, the Secretary shall conduct a pilot project to test the initial standards developed under subparagraph (A) prior to the promulgation of the final uniform standards under subparagraph (D) in order to provide for the efficient implementation of the requirements described in paragraph (2).
(ii) Exception Pilot testing of standards is not required under clause (i) where there already is adequate industry experience with such standards, as determined by the Secretary after consultation with effected standard setting organizations and industry users.
(iii) Voluntary participation of physicians and pharmacies In order to conduct the pilot project under clause (i), the Secretary shall enter into agreements with physicians, physician groups, pharmacies, hospitals, PDP sponsors, MA organizations, and other appropriate entities under which health care professionals electronically transmit prescriptions to dispensing pharmacies and pharmacists in accordance with such standards.
(iv) Evaluation and report
(I) Evaluation The Secretary shall conduct an evaluation of the pilot project conducted under clause (i).
(II) Report to Congress Not later than April 1, 2007, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the evaluation conducted under subclause (I).
(D) Final standards 
Based upon the evaluation of the pilot project under subparagraph (C)(iv)(I) and not later than April 1, 2008, the Secretary shall promulgate uniform standards relating to the requirements described in paragraph (2).
(5) Relation to State laws 
The standards promulgated under this subsection shall supersede any State law or regulation that
(A) is contrary to the standards or restricts the ability to carry out this part; and
(B) pertains to the electronic transmission of medication history and of information on eligibility, benefits, and prescriptions with respect to covered part D drugs under this part.
(6) Establishment of safe harbor 
The Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall promulgate regulations that provide for a safe harbor from sanctions under paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 1320a–7b (b) of this title and an exception to the prohibition under subsection (a)(1) of section 1395nn of this title with respect to the provision of nonmonetary remuneration (in the form of hardware, software, or information technology and training services) necessary and used solely to receive and transmit electronic prescription information in accordance with the standards promulgated under this subsection
(A) in the case of a hospital, by the hospital to members of its medical staff;
(B) in the case of a group practice (as defined in section 1395nn (h)(4) of this title), by the practice to prescribing health care professionals who are members of such practice; and
(C) in the case of a PDP sponsor or MA organization, by the sponsor or organization to pharmacists and pharmacies participating in the network of such sponsor or organization, and to prescribing health care professionals.
(f) Grievance mechanism 
Each PDP sponsor shall provide meaningful procedures for hearing and resolving grievances between the sponsor (including any entity or individual through which the sponsor provides covered benefits) and enrollees with prescription drug plans of the sponsor under this part in accordance with section 1395w–22 (f) of this title.
(g) Coverage determinations and reconsiderations 

(1) Application of coverage determination and reconsideration provisions 
A PDP sponsor shall meet the requirements of paragraphs (1) through (3) of section 1395w–22 (g) of this title with respect to covered benefits under the prescription drug plan it offers under this part in the same manner as such requirements apply to an MA organization with respect to benefits it offers under an MA plan under part C of this subchapter.
(2) Request for a determination for the treatment of tiered formulary drug 
In the case of a prescription drug plan offered by a PDP sponsor that provides for tiered cost-sharing for drugs included within a formulary and provides lower cost-sharing for preferred drugs included within the formulary, a part D eligible individual who is enrolled in the plan may request an exception to the tiered cost-sharing structure. Under such an exception, a nonpreferred drug could be covered under the terms applicable for preferred drugs if the prescribing physician determines that the preferred drug for treatment of the same condition either would not be as effective for the individual or would have adverse effects for the individual or both. A PDP sponsor shall have an exceptions process under this paragraph consistent with guidelines established by the Secretary for making a determination with respect to such a request. Denial of such an exception shall be treated as a coverage denial for purposes of applying subsection (h) of this section.
(h) Appeals 

(1) In general 
Subject to paragraph (2), a PDP sponsor shall meet the requirements of paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 1395w–22 (g) of this title with respect to benefits (including a determination related to the application of tiered cost-sharing described in subsection (g)(2) of this section) in a manner similar (as determined by the Secretary) to the manner such requirements apply to an MA organization with respect to benefits under the original medicare fee-for-service program option it offers under an MA plan under part C of this subchapter. In applying this paragraph only the part D eligible individual shall be entitled to bring such an appeal.
(2) Limitation in cases on nonformulary determinations 
A part D eligible individual who is enrolled in a prescription drug plan offered by a PDP sponsor may appeal under paragraph (1) a determination not to provide for coverage of a covered part D drug that is not on the formulary under the plan only if the prescribing physician determines that all covered part D drugs on any tier of the formulary for treatment of the same condition would not be as effective for the individual as the nonformulary drug, would have adverse effects for the individual, or both.
(3) Treatment of nonformulary determinations 
If a PDP sponsor determines that a plan provides coverage for a covered part D drug that is not on the formulary of the plan, the drug shall be treated as being included on the formulary for purposes of section 1395w–102 (b)(4)(C)(i) of this title.
(i) Privacy, confidentiality, and accuracy of enrollee records 
The provisions of section 1395w–22 (h) of this title shall apply to a PDP sponsor and prescription drug plan in the same manner as it applies to an MA organization and an MA plan.
(j) Treatment of accreditation 
Subparagraph (A) of section 1395w–22 (e)(4) of this title (relating to treatment of accreditation) shall apply to a PDP sponsor under this part with respect to the following requirements, in the same manner as it applies to an MA organization with respect to the requirements in subparagraph (B) (other than clause (vii) thereof) of such section:
(1) Subsection (b) of this section (relating to access to covered part D drugs).
(2) Subsection (c) of this section (including quality assurance and medication therapy management).
(3) Subsection (i) of this section (relating to confidentiality and accuracy of enrollee records).
(k) Public disclosure of pharmaceutical prices for equivalent drugs 

(1) In general 
A PDP sponsor offering a prescription drug plan shall provide that each pharmacy that dispenses a covered part D drug shall inform an enrollee of any differential between the price of the drug to the enrollee and the price of the lowest priced generic covered part D drug under the plan that is therapeutically equivalent and bioequivalent and available at such pharmacy.
(2) Timing of notice 

(A) In general 
Subject to subparagraph (B), the information under paragraph (1) shall be provided at the time of purchase of the drug involved, or, in the case of dispensing by mail order, at the time of delivery of such drug.
(B) Waiver 
The Secretary may waive subparagraph (A) in such circumstances as the Secretary may specify.
[1] So in original. Probably should be followed by a period.