KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Seniors Are Less Able To Afford Prescriptions, Study Finds

In its first few years, Medicare's Part D prescription drug program helped seniors pay for their medications, but that trend appears to be reversing, researchers found. Meanwhile, drugmakers fight over the rules for naming cheaper versions of biologic drugs.

The New York Times' The New Old Age: Part D Gains May Be Eroding
[I]n its first few years, national data shows, Part D did help elderly Medicare beneficiaries make modest progress. Out-of-pocket costs decreased. Better able to afford their medications, seniors were less likely to stop taking them for financial reasons. And they were less likely to do without other basic needs — like food and heat — in order to pay for drugs. "I expected that to keep going,” said Jeanne Madden, a health policy analyst at Harvard Medical School. Instead, as she and a team researchers from Harvard and the University of Massachusetts report in the most recent issue of Health Affairs, those downward trends took a U-turn in 2009. "Things improved after Part D, continued to improve for a few years, and then reversed," she said in an interview (Span, 8/21).

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: A Drug Naming Dispute, With Billions On The Line
In health care, even how you name something can become a debate with billions of dollars on the line. With a new wave of cheaper versions of biologic drugs expected to soon become available in the United States, the health-care industry is still fighting over key ground rules for these drugs — more than four years after the Affordable Care Act cleared a pathway for this new drug classification. That includes what names these copy-cat version of biologic drugs should actually go by (Millman, 8/21).

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