Your Feb. 2 article, "Medicare Drug Spending Expected to Be Well Below Estimates," was a powerful rebuttal to critics who claim Part D's market-based approach is failing. As you note, "the intense competition among private insurers" has resulted in lower prices for both medicines and premiums.
The drug benefit certainly stumbled out of the gates, and critics charged it showed a failure of the innovative market-based approach to delivering the benefit. In fact, most of the launch-phase problems can be traced to government computers. In particular, when low-income seniors were switched from Medicaid to Medicare to get their drug coverage, federal and state computer programs weren't compatible and names were dropped. And many seniors didn't get enrollment letters because state address lists were out of date.
There's plenty of blame to go around, including understaffing of help lines by private insurers. But the real snafu was on the government side.
Original story at www.nytimes.com