KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

GOP Dismissive Of Trump’s Medicare ‘Bidding’ Idea — Long A Non-Starter — To Curb Drug Prices

Republicans tend to prize fostering competition over negotiation. Meanwhile, Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., gets called out by progressives for his "no" vote on importing drugs from Canada.

Roll Call: Republicans Not So Sure About Trump's Call for Drug “Bidding”
Congressional Republicans are downplaying or dismissing President-elect Donald Trump’s call Wednesday for the government to start “bidding” for prescription drugs. Addressing the high price of prescription drugs is a popular bipartisan issue, but Republicans tend to favor an approach that would stimulate competition that could help bring prices down. Under the Medicare drug program, price negotiation does occur between drug companies and the insurers who administer the coverage, but the federal government is forbidden from leveraging the bargaining power of Medicare as a whole. Changing that dynamic has largely been a non-starter among Republicans, who think the government would have a hard time negotiating better prices than the private insurers in the Medicare Part D drug program. (Siddons, 1/12)

Stat: Cory Booker Gets Heat For Opposing Drug Imports From Canada
Cory Booker, the New Jersey Senator assumed to be angling for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, found himself in trouble with progressives Thursday after he voted against a measure to allow prescription drugs to be imported from Canada. Booker was one of 13 Democrats to oppose the symbolic provision, but he was the target of derisive news coverage and a minor social media campaign. Angry progressives quickly noted Booker is one of the drug industry’s biggest financial beneficiaries in the Senate. (Scott, 1/12)

And in other pharmaceutical news about drug pricing —

Stat: CVS Slashes Price Of Substitute EpiPen Auto-Injectors To $109.99
CVS Health announced Thursday morning that it has cut the price of two-packs of epinephrine auto-injectors to $109.99 — roughly the price that brand-name EpiPen shots were selling for eight years ago, before their escalating price became a hot political issue. A CVS Health spokesperson said that the pharmacies used to sell these products for about $200 a two-pack, and that the price cut was motivated by customers angry with the high price of epinephrine auto-injectors, which are used to quell severe allergic reactions. (Swetlitz, 1/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Cigna Drops Coverage Of Mylan’s EpiPen In Favor Of Cheaper Generic
A top U.S. health insurer has dropped its coverage of Mylan NV’s brand-name EpiPen and switched to the half-priced version Mylan launched in response to public outrage over its sharp price increases on the lifesaving drug. Cigna Corp. swapped its coverage of the $600 EpiPen for Mylan’s $300 version, according to a document on Cigna’s website outlining its prescription drug coverage changes for 2017. (Steele and Walker, 1/12)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.