Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently introduced the bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019. The bill provides incentives to slow the spending curve in the Medicaid drug program. Grassley says, “When states decide which drugs will be covered and included on their preferred drug lists, taxpayers and Medicaid patients ought to have assurances the system is fair. Transparency is the best guardrail to ensure safety and effectiveness to deliver the best value for taxpayers and the best outcomes for Medicaid patients.”
Federal health officials on Monday unveiled a new primary care experiment that seeks to pay doctors for providing stepped-up services that keep patients healthy and out of the hospital, an effort they say will transform basic medical services for tens of millions of American patients. The initiative, called CMS Primary Cares, includes five new payment options for small and large providers, allowing them to take varying levels of financial responsibility for improving care and lowering costs. It broadly seeks to change how primary care is delivered in the U.S. by rewarding doctors for improving management of patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure and averting expensive trips to the hospital.
The sudden resignation of Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, leaves a giant hole atop an agency that oversees a quarter of the U.S. economy. Which, of course, leads to an equally big question: Who will replace him? Top contenders include Amy Abernethy, formerly the chief medical officer at health data firm Flatiron Health, who became Gottlieb’s principal deputy commissioner early this year. Another contender is Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute since October 2017, who would bring a deep knowledge of biotech to an FDA stint. And another is Brett Giroir, the current HHS assistant secretary for health, with experience in government, academia, and industry.
One aspect of CMS’ price transparency initiative has received a great deal of attention recently. Our updated guidelines now require hospitals to post a list of their current “standard charges” on the internet in a machine-readable format — meaning the data can not only be read electronically but can also be imported or read into other databases. Previously, CMS required hospitals to make their standard charges available in response to an inquiry, but too often this meant making the information available only in print or a PDF that couldn’t be aggregated with other data and that wasn’t broadly available.
Two years ago this month, President Trump promised the American people that he would stop drug companies from “getting away with murder” with their annual ritual of price increases. Since then, his historic actions on drug pricing have produced historic results. One official measure of drug price inflation was actually negative in 2018, for the first time in almost 50 years.