Business wants Medicare to keep automatic, mail-order drug refills

"Automatic prescription refill programs are widely used to ensure retirees are following the drug maintenance programs prescribed by their doctors," the groups wrote.

"We ask you to consider … proposals for written or electronic consent when patients opt-in to an automatic refill program, with the opportunity for beneficiaries to opt-out of an automatic refill program entirely."

The coalition added that such a plan could still avoid "unnecessary waste" within Medicare. 

Federal health officials have warned that automatic-refill policies lead to unused medications and unnecessary costs for Part D beneficiaries.

In one case, Medcare reported comments suggesting that "beneficiaries return large quantities of unneeded medications to community pharmacies ... because they were unable to stop auto-ship refill programs." 

The American Benefits Council, the ERISA Industry Committee, the HR Policy Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Business Group on Health also signed Tuesday's letter.

The document was circulated Thursday by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents pharmacy benefit managers.

—This post was expanded at 3:39 p.m.