Health Care

Trump administration squares off with drugmakers over plan

Trump administration squares off with drugmakers over plan”

"It's hard to take the Trump administration and Republicans seriously about reducing health care costs for seniors two weeks before the election when they have repeatedly advocated for and implemented policies that strip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions and lead to increased health care costs for millions of Americans", said Senator Chuck Schumer of NY, the Democratic leader, The Times reported.

Speaking from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department in Washington Thursday, the president said foreign countries are paying practically nothing for drugs since their governments pay whatever drug companies set.

Okon says there is no evidence that doctors prescribe high-priced drugs because they make more money.

One common cancer drug is almost seven times as expensive for Medicare as it is for other countries.

"Finally seeing this system reformed, in fact, is one of the pharmaceutical industry's ultimate nightmares", said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former Eli Lilly executive, in a Friday speech. "Each country is making its own decisions around pricing and reimbursement for a drug based on their own budgets and mechanisms and policies and so on", he said in a phone interview.

Under the plan announced by HHS, Medicare payments for drugs administered in doctors' offices would gradually shift to a level based on worldwide prices.

The president is focusing on health care in the run-up to the midterm elections; Democrats have been hammering away at Republicans for their failed attempt last summer to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a law Trump has fiercely criticized.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar criticized a system in which other countries to pay significantly less for drugs than the USA government.

An analysis by HHS of US and worldwide prices for leading Part B drugs finds that Medicare pays almost twice as much as it would pay for the same or similar drugs in other countries. In multiple midterm races, Republican incumbents have denied claims that they oppose protections for people with preexisting conditions.

The report compares the price paid by Medicare for 27 prescription drugs with the average price paid for the same drugs by countries with similar economic conditions.

However, Howard Deutsch, principal at management consulting firm ZS, said that while it is well-established that people in other countries pay less than Americans, calling it "freeloading" was a misrepresentation.

Trump's administration plans to set up an "international pricing index", in which some United States drug prices would be linked to what 16 other countries pay, ultimately to get to a lower price in line with what those countries are paying, Politico reports. Claiming that "global freeloading" has driven up drug costs, Trump said his plan could save Medicare more than $17 billion over five years, with the cost of some drugs dropping by as much as 30 percent. "Some of the ideas like introducing indexing prices to other countries would be viewed by the drug industry as outright antithetical to their interests". The agency will launch a pilot program to reimburse doctors with a flat rate, rather than a percentage of the drug's price, to remove any incentive for doctors and hospitals to choose more expensive drugs over cheaper ones. 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. "President Trump asked us to fix this problem and here's how we plan to do it".

The report "provides troubling insight into how the current worldwide drug pricing system has put America in last place, " Azar tweeted. Medicare pays directly for them under its "Part B" coverage for outpatient care. Drugs sold at the pharmacy are covered under Medicare Part D.

Azar said Medicare spent about $8 billion more for drugs in the study than it would have if the prices were scaled to global prices.

Trump has promised sweeping action to attack drug prices, both as president and when he was running for the White House.

Healthcare and high prescription drug prices have consistently polled as top voter concerns ahead of November 6 elections where Trump's Republicans are battling to maintain control of Congress. In a March Kaiser Family Foundation poll, eight in 10 respondents said drug costs are unreasonable and 92 percent said passing legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs should be a top or important priority.

The president in May also claimed drug companies would be announcing "massive" voluntary price cuts.

The Obama demonstration is entirely different from what the Trump administration is proposing, Azar said.

Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at Pew Charitable Trusts, said removing incentives that reward doctors for purchasing costlier drugs and bringing in a new way to control prices "makes a lot of sense".

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