Trump wants to change how Medicare pays for certain drugs

Trump wants to change how Medicare pays for certain drugs

Trump wants to change how Medicare pays for certain drugs

2018 is the health-care midterm for a reason: Donald Trump and the rest of his party spent the last two years trying to advance policies that would deprive the most vulnerable Americans of access to health care.

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.

Trump has railed against price controls in other countries, which he says aren't paying their fair share for life-saving drugs that cost billions of dollars to develop. The Medicare program, which covers 55 million elderly and disabled Americans, is responsible for 29 percent of the nation's prescription drug spending. Since the Affordable Care Act came into effect, Republicans have been determined to strip away the law's most progressive proposals. Medicare pays directly for them under its "Part B" coverage for outpatient care.

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

And drug companies are not going to "walk away" from the world's largest payer for prescription drugs, Azar argued.

"For decades, other countries have rigged the system so American patients are charged much more - in some cases much, much more - for the exact same drug", Trump said.

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The Trump administration's drug-pricing plan puts the US on a path toward policies like those in Europe, where governments use tight cost controls. So far, Republicans have been on the defensive when it comes to healthcare, especially when it comes to the GOP's attacks on preexisting condition protections, so the speech may be an attempt to reframe the healthcare conversation as Americans head to the polls.

"This is a huge policy change and one that has great potential to reduce the prices that taxpayers for these drugs and Medicare beneficiaries pay for these drugs", she said.

The proposal is structured as an experiment and would apply to half the country.

"President Trump promised that he would bring down drug prices and put American patients first".

"The reality is he could very easily not take this on and do what other administrations have done and let the prices keep rising".

Trump has criticized foreign governments with single-payer healthcare systems, such as the UK and France, that are able to negotiate prices directly with drug companies and often pay far less for the same medications than the United States. "We're fixing it. That's called real-life experience, I guess", Trump added. Those drugs that stand to lose the most revenue include Rituxan from Genentech and Biogen, Amgen's Neulasta, Regeneron's Eylea and Genentech's Lucentis.

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The ratio of average payment based on ASP versus the average worldwide target index would shift incrementally over a 5-year period in favor of the global target, until in the program's fifth year payment would be targeted at 126% of the average global price, as opposed to the 180% that the U.S now pays compared to those same average prices.

Already, the pharmaceutical industry lobbying group came out swinging.

The 19-page HHS report looks specifically at drugs purchased and dispensed by doctors themselves, under Medicare's Part B program.

Sales of Amgen drugs through Part B, for example, totaled about $3.7 billion in 2016 - or about a fifth of the biotech's USA revenue of $17.5 billion in 2016, according to figures from Leerink. In the United Kingdom, for example, a drug company will go to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE, offering confidential discounts or rebates off of a drug's list price. 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.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said if Trump wants to save seniors money he should seek congressional approval for Medicare to negotiate prices for its main prescription drug program, "Part D". Medicare spending on the three drugs alone totaled more than $4 billion. But it's largely been business as usual for drugmakers even as Trump has predicted "massive" voluntary price cuts.

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.

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

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