Perspectives: Has the 340B Drug Program, Meant To Help The Poor, Outgrown Its Original Intent?
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
The New York Times:
A Little-Known Windfall For Some Hospitals, Now Facing Big Cuts
Most hospitals are nonprofit and justify their exemption from taxation with community service and charity care. But the Trump administration could require some of them to do more to help the poor, and the hospitals that are in the cross-hairs are those benefiting from an obscure drug discount program known as 340B. The 340B program requires pharmaceutical manufactures to sell drugs at steep discounts to certain hospitals serving larger proportions of low-income and vulnerable people, such as children or cancer patients. The participating hospitals may charge insurers and public programs like Medicare and Medicaid more for those drugs than they paid for them and keep the difference. (Austin Frakt, 8/29)
Los Angeles Times:
She Paid $3.47 For A Prescription Drug. The Retail Price Was 10,000% Higher
Stephanie Garman picked up some prescription meds from CVS the other day. Normally she doesn’t give such things a second thought. This time she took a closer look at her receipt. The retail price for her drug: $355.99. The amount due: $3.47.In other words, Ventura resident Garman was being charged 1% of the drug’s market price. She’s not complaining. But she wonders how there can be such a huge gap between what a drug ostensibly costs and what she’s actually paying. (David Lazarus, 8/28)
The Washington Post:
Trump Might Actually Lower Drug Prices
Surprise! The Trump administration is actually making progress to reduce drug prices, and not just by “browbeating” pharmaceutical executives. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced new options to increase competition for physician-administered drugs and lower the cost of some innovative medications, and the Food and Drug Administration is exploring importation to create more competition in the generics market. These reforms will help. But the real game changer is under review at the Office of Management and Budget. Although details are under wraps, it is clear that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wants to end kickbacks in the pharmacy distribution chain that are costing Medicare and taxpayers billions of dollars. (Dana Goldman and Anupam Jena, 8/28)
Are Pharmacy Benefit Managers The Good Guys Or Bad Guys Of Drug Pricing?
In the ongoing debate over drug prices, the pharmaceutical industry has been highly effective in shifting the blame to the middlemen — in particular to pharmacy benefit managers. As they currently operate, pharmacy benefit managers are part of the problem. But if incentives were realigned, pharmacy benefit managers could — and should — play more of a vital role in controlling runaway prices for prescription drugs. (John Arnold, 8/27)
Rising Drug Costs Are Taking More Health Care Dollars
One of the most common ways we experience the impact of rising health care costs is when we visit the pharmacy. For BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members, it’s the most commonly used benefit, with 8 of 10 members filling at least one prescription last year. We recently shared that covering pharmacy claims accounted for 10 cents from every premium dollar we collected in 2017. There are two important caveats. (Natalie Tate, 8/25)