Trump says goal of proposal is to lower some drug prices

Trump says goal of proposal is to lower some drug prices

"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.

Azar complained that critics have already gotten personal. "Not all drugs would be included in this test. CMS would focus on drugs made by just one company (which tend to be expensive) and biologic medicines, which make up a large share of Medicare Part B spending", Politico reported.

He said the most that the plan could trim from the pharma industry's total R&D budget would be $700 million, or about 1%. "This happens because the government pays whatever price the drug companies set without any negotiation whatsoever". That program was abruptly halted in December 2017, in response to pushback from oncologist and rheumatologists. Azar said there would be no changes to Medicare benefits and no restrictions on patient access.

"'That's not what we're doing here", Azar said. The United States is the biggest funder of research and development in the pharmaceutical sector, yet lacks the bargaining power to bring prices down - unlike in countries with public health-care programs. "Medicare could achieve significant savings if prices in the US were similar to those of other large market-based economies", the report concluded.

U.S. President Donald Trump, taking aim at "global freeloading", said on Thursday his administration would seek to lower prescription drug prices by basing what the government's Medicare program pays for some medications on the lower prices paid in other countries.

"This is a pro-patient access model", he reiterated Friday.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar criticized a system in which other countries to pay significantly less for drugs than the US government. Rather, it is an "advanced notice of proposed rule-making". The arrangement gives physicians an incentive to prescribe the most expensive medications, because they will collect a higher fee, Trump said.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service.

But Trump's rhetoric on drug pricing sounds awfully similar to the rest of his nationalist message, and as a result, he fails to really address the problem he wants to solve.

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Physician groups such as the American Medical Association expressed cautious support, noting that Thursday's announcement lacked key details that would determine how well it ultimately serves their interests. They talk about bringing down costs.

"Finally, we question whether the proposed IPI mechanism used to purchase drugs could be considered a group purchasing organization". The proposal won't extend into other common drugs Americans pick up at the pharmacy counter.

Still, the proposal does signal the administration's seriousness in seeking consequential changes to the structure of how the USA government pays for drugs.

Earlier, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) blasted the plan as "imposing foreign price controls".

Administration actions have yet to show major impact on the cost of prescription drugs. President Obama's previous attempt to make sweeping changes to the way Medicare pays for drugs administered in doctors' offices fell apart amid similar industry complaints.

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

"For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more. for the exact same drug", Trump said at HHS headquarters Thursday. The new prices would be pegged to an "international pricing index" based on the average sales price in other countries with economies comparable to that of the United States. Medicare would reimburse those vendors at the global pricing level. Who's actually getting hit by this?

Physicians and hospital outpatient departments in the mandatory regions would need to select a participating vendor to acquire the drugs selected by the model.

"We don't negotiate because we don't use the threat of walking away and other countries do", said Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University. The proposal would also allow HHS officials to charge a flat incentive fee for doctors who prescribe certain medications; now, doctors can receive higher fees for more expensive drugs.

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