Trump introduces plan to lower Medicare drug costs, end 'global freeloading'

Trump introduces plan to lower Medicare drug costs, end 'global freeloading'

Trump introduces plan to lower Medicare drug costs, end 'global freeloading'

"Tremendous, tremendous difference", Trump said. Since the Affordable Care Act came into effect, Republicans have been determined to strip away the law's most progressive proposals.

Currently, Medicare pays the average list price (ASP) for Part B drugs plus 6%, to compensate providers for the costs of administration and maintaining inventory - the so-called "buy and bill" model.

To address the concern and bring Medicare Part B spending down, HHS proposed to test an alternative payment for certain drugs that had ASPs higher than the worldwide price.

Such a reaction was anticipated by the Trump administration, which has recently sought to show more action on its promises to take on rising drug prices. Medicare now pays the average sales price of a medicine in the United States, plus an extra fee based on a percentage of that price.

All countries in Europe look to other countries on drug pricing to some degree. Under the proposal, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would issue a proposed rule this spring to change how it pays for infused and injected drugs administered by physicians in half of the country.

With midterm elections less than two weeks away, President Donald Trump is pushing a plan to lower prices for some prescription drugs, and Friday it put his administration on a collision course with the powerful pharmaceutical industry.

After almost a decade of promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have struggled to message health care on the campaign trail.

HHS Secretary Azar tweeted that "Medicare was found to be paying the highest price for 19 out of the 27 drugs studied compared to these other countries".

Trump is linking the prices Americans complain about to one of his longstanding grievances: foreign countries the president says are taking advantage of USA research breakthroughs. In the USA, large swaths of the poor and uninsured can be left out.

Trump's announcement represents the next leg in the administration's quest to appear tough on the pharmaceutical industry. The Medicare program, which covers 55 million elderly and disabled Americans, is responsible for 29 percent of the nation's prescription drug spending. It concludes that the higher USA prices means Medicare pays almost twice as much as the program would pay for the same or similar drugs in other countries. "President Trump asked us to fix this problem and here's how we plan to do it". If you're upset about high drug prices, blame America's commitment to a relatively unrestrained free market, not, say, the policies of the United Kingdom. Same company, same box, same pill made in the exact same location, and you'll go to some countries, and it would be 20 per cent the cost of what we pay, and in some cases, much less than that.

The proposed rule also sets up a first-time system inside Medicare where drugs would be sold to vendors instead of directly to doctors and hospitals.


The new plan will also fix a broken payment system, where doctors are reimbursed more if they prescribe a much more expensive drug, he said.

Officials said the aim is to introduce more competition into Part B, whose spending on drugs has doubled since 2006.

Already, however, there is skepticism about how much this will impact the drug industry. Medicare pays directly for them under its "Part B" coverage for outpatient care.

"Something has to change in how Medicare pays for physician-administered drugs", Azar said at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. Among biotechs, Amgen and Regeneron earn a substantial portion of their revenue through Medicare Part B. The report notes Part B is not subject to restrictions on the drugs that are covered, meaning there is little incentive to tamp down costs.

"The administration is imposing foreign price controls from countries with socialized health care systems that deny their citizens access and discourage innovation".

President Donald Trump's plan to lower drug prices sounds a lot like what the "global freeloaders" he often criticizes do themselves to curb high prescription prices.

While Medicare is barred from explicitly negotiating prices with drug companies, Trump's proposed changes are all created to use the collective power of the growing Medicare market to force drugmakers to bring down their prices or lose access to a potentially lucrative market.

While Trump did not specifically name the drug, he was presumably referring to Roche's biologic Lucentis (ranibizumab) by comparing the numbers he cited with figures in the HHS report released earlier Thursday.

The administration has moved twice this month to lower drug prices in other ways.

Trump's speech came as his administration has made its work on drug pricing a priority - and as that work, too, has increasingly taken direct aim at pharmaceutical companies.

This article was written by Felicia Sonmez and Paige Winfield Cunningham, reporters for The Washington Post.

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