A recent study published in Health Affairs reached a controversial conclusion, that the United States should adopt socialist price schemes to reduce drug prices.
The study, “Using External Reference Pricing In Medicare Part D To Reduce Drug Price Differentials With Other Countries” argues that by matching prices with those in other countries, the United States can reduce spending in Medicare.
The proposal is not new, but it is dangerous.
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday will begin allowing a broad section of its nine million enrollees to seek medical care outside of traditional V.A. hospitals, the biggest shift in the American health care system since the passage of the Affordable Care Act nearly a decade ago.
While department officials say they are ready, veterans groups and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concerns about the V.A., which has been dogged for years by problems with its computer systems. They worry that the department is not fully prepared to begin its new policy, which Congress adopted last year to streamline and expand the way veterans get care.
The Medicaid Drug Rebate Program (MDRP) was created by Congress nearly 30 years ago. It requires drug manufacturers to pay a rebate for all out-patient drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. The percentage for this rebate varies by type of drug, with brand-name drugs requiring the greatest rebate and generics the least. In addition, the rebate must rise until it ensures that the net (of rebate) price of the drug matches the best price available to anyone in the private market. (MDRP is often referred to as the Medicaid “best price” policy.) Finally, there is an inflation penalty — an additional rebate equal to the amount by which the price increase exceeds the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
Two efforts are underway in the Senate to compile bipartisan packages aimed at lowering and bringing transparency to health care costs, with the goal of merging them on the Senate floor this summer:
- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and his Democrat counterpart, Ron Wyden (D-OR), are poised to release a drug pricing proposal by the end of the month.
- The other top health care committee — Health, Education, Labor and Pensions — is preparing for a hearing on a health care pricing package recently released by its leaders, Chairman Lamar Alexander R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).
Neither package will include one singular big thing to lower health care costs for consumers. Instead, they’ll be full of smaller proposals that legislators say together could help move the needle on prices.