Seema Verma Announces Proposal to Tackle Rx Drug Prices
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma on Monday announced the administration is proposing new rules that would ease restrictions on how Medicare Part D -- an optional federal government program to help Medicare beneficiaries pay for self-administered prescription drugs through prescription drug insurance premiums -- manages the six protected drug classes that must be included in those plans. The administration said the change would bring the latest tools from the private sector to Medicare Part D, saving money, improving access, and expanding plan choice. CMS also announced it is taking action on pharmacy rebates and is allowing step therapy in Medicare Advantage plans as part of their effort to force lower drug prices. “In designing [the] proposal, foremost in the agency’s mind was the impact on patients, and the proposal is yet another action CMS has taken to deliver on President Trump and Secretary Azar’s commitment on drug prices,” said Verma. “Today’s changes will provide seniors with more plan options featuring lower costs for prescription drugs, and seniors will remain in the driver’s seat as they can choose the plan that works best for them. The result will be increasing access to the medicines that seniors depend on by lowering their out-of-pocket costs.” However, not all advocates were convinced that the proposals would help patients -- some called the proposals a “cumbersome, agonizing, and an unnecessary burden” -- and even PhRMA expressed significant concerns. More here.