Better Public Health Through Part D

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The first week in April marks National Public Health Week (NPHW), a time for Americans to celebrate our health as a nation and discuss the challenges we face in improving public health care for all citizens. National Public Health Week is also an opportunity to take a look at Medicare Part D, a policy that's improved the health and wellbeing of one of the largest and growing populations for more than a decade.

America's public health care system aims to provide every citizen with a quality of health and a quality of life that is second to none. Nevertheless, some Americans find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the treatments they need to stay healthy. This issue becomes even more of a concern for seniors as health problems rise and professional lives wind down. Thirteen years ago, lawmakers solved this dilemma by creating broader access to medicines.

In 2003, Part D joined the list of Medicare programs that provide affordable and accessible health care to millions of Americans. Medicare's prescription drug benefit went into effect in 2006, and immediately began connecting our seniors with the treatments they needed through a nationwide network of providers and comprehensive plans. As you might expect, the program became an instant hit. Within the first 8 months, more than half of the Medicare enrollees signed up for Part D coverage to complement the already exemplary care they were receiving through Medicare.

A decade later, Medicare Part D continues to provide American seniors with cost-effective prescription drug coverage options. Recent studies have further demonstrated the program's effectiveness by linking the advent of Part D to an 8% drop in ER visits among seniors and an impressive 16% drop in mortality rate. This proven track record of continued success and better health outcomes has led 3 in 4 of today's Medicare enrollees to also subscribe to Part D.

As the fastest growing segment of our population, improving health among our senior citizens is a key part of dramatically improving the state of our public health as a whole. So when you're celebrating National Public Health Week, don't forget to celebrate Part D!

To learn more about NPHW activities and how to get involved, visit the American Public Health Association's website or follow along on social media at #NPHW.