PhRMA Pushes Back Against Campaign Calls For Medicare Part D Price Negotiation
"The powerful pharmaceutical lobby is pushing back against campaign-trail calls to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices on behalf of millions of seniors enrolled in Part D," The Hill reports. "The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) argues that price negotiations are already being undertaken by insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, bringing Part D costs down well below the program's initial projections. [Avalere Health] found that the average premium under the drug benefit will jump by 9.5 percent in 2011 - largely due to cost spikes expected in the enhanced-plan market. Part D is emerging as a prominent campaign issue in some races," including in the Senate race in Kentucky to replace Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. (Lillis, 10/26).
Related, earlier KHN story: Dueling Letters On Medicare Part D Changes (Marcy, 10/25)
Meanwhile, Kaiser Health News reports that if the GOP makes big gains next week, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and other top Republicans are slated to be "in position to advance their ideas on Medicare, Social Security and other programs. Ryan is the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, and a senior member of the Ways and Means committee, which has jurisdiction over the two entitlement programs. Cantor serves on the Ways and Means Committee, and is already the GOP's second in command in the House, as minority whip, or vote counter. McCarthy is Cantor's chief deputy whip."
Ryan would preserve Medicare as it currently exists for those over age 55 while pushing back the eligibility age for others to 69 1/2. There would also "be a 'standard Medicare payment' for the purchase of private health coverage. At the beginning, Medicare vouchers would cover $11,000 of the cost of a health plan, which the proposal lists as the average amount of money that Medicare currently spends on a beneficiary. The total would increase with inflation, based on a combination of the consumer price index and its medical care component. If the payment exceeds the cost of a plan, the beneficiary could invest the leftover money in a medical savings account to pay for other medical needs, or buy long-term care insurance." Others, namely Democrats, are wary of the idea (Weber Serafini, 10/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.