KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Pharmaceutical Companies Reach Deal To Shrink Medicare ‘Doughnut Hole’

Los Angeles Times: "U.S. drug makers agreed Saturday to shell out $80 billion over the next 10 years to lower the cost of medication for seniors and help pay for President Obama's proposed healthcare overhaul, as part of an agreement hashed out with lawmakers and administration officials.
The deal means the pharmaceutical companies will extend discounts on prescription drugs to millions of seniors who often must pay staggering drug costs not covered by their Medicare plan, according to a White House announcement" (Parsons, 6/20).

Washington Post: "Leaders of the industry's lobbying arm, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), voted yesterday to voluntarily trim prices on medications sold to seniors, the disabled and others enrolled in government health programs. The agreement was officially announced today. It was not clear how much of the savings would accrue to the government side of the ledger and how much would represent lower out-of-pocket payments for consumers. 'The agreement reached today to lower prescription drug costs for seniors will be an important part of the legislation I expect to sign into law in December,' Obama said in a statement this afternoon. 'This is a tangible example of the type of reform that will lower costs while assuring quality health care for every American.'" (Connolly, 6/20)

Reuters: "The companies have agreed to a 50 percent discount for those elderly and disabled Americans in the Medicare health insurance program who face a gap in coverage after their drug costs reach a certain level, known as the 'doughnut hole'. 'This is a huge amount of money that our companies are putting up to try to help make healthcare reform possible,' said an industry official familiar with the negotiations, declining further identification.
The 10-year deal was negotiated between the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America industry association and the Senate Finance Committee, which is one of several congressional panels drafting healthcare reform legislation" (Pelofsky, 6/20).


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