Proposed Medicare Payment Model Based on International Drug Prices Would Lower Patient Costs
On October 25, 2018, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) calling for a demonstration project to more closely align Medicare payment for certain Medicare Part B drugs and biologics with international prices, which an HHS analysis showed to be 1.8 times lower on average than in the United States. The proposal is a follow-up to the president’s prescription drug blueprint and HHS request for information to reduce patient out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. HHS estimates a savings of $17.2 billion over five years.
President Trump Signs Opioids Legislation Into Law
Developed to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, a comprehensive opioid addiction bill has finally made its way to the president’s desk. On October 25, 2018, President Trump signed the opioid package into law. The new law allots more than $8 billion to address addiction, drug trafficking, and recovery issues.
Lower Drug Prices; Democrat Dealmakers; Republicans Support Medicare Expansion
Fighting the cost of soaring prescription medications is a winning issue with tremendous bipartisan support. And reigning in exorbitant drug prices means patients will be the real winners. Recently, President Trump lauded his administration’s work to fight against high prescription drug costs, citing new efforts to reduce other countries from taking advantage of drug pricing.
Drug Pricing in Ads; Cancer Fertility Preservation; American Healthcare Panic
Addressing the high cost of prescription medications has been an ongoing focus for the Trump administration. Its latest move, requiring drug companies to list their product’s market price on consumer ads, is an added level of transparency that didn’t exist before. Whether the decree will have an impact remains to be seen, but it may add some trust to the process.
Opioid Package Passes; Cheap Insurance Policies; Drug Patent Laws
For months, bipartisan lawmakers have worked together to build an opioid package aimed to tackle the nation’s abuse epidemic. After rounds of revisions and finally making it through both chambers of the House and Senate, the legislation is on its way to the president’s desk. The bill focuses funding efforts on addiction recovery programs and cracking down on the illegal medication trafficking.
HHS Secretary Directs FDA to Create Drug Importation Working Group
The rising price of prescription drugs is an ongoing priority for the Trump administration. As part of the president’s blueprint to lower drug costs, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, Alex Azar, elevated the prescription cost issue throughout many federal agencies to help determine a new course of action.
If You Are Young and Have Cancer, Help Can Be Hard to Find; Health Secretary Says Agency Has Power to Eliminate Drug Rebates; Trump Administration Needs to Step Up on Obamacare
A cancer diagnosis at a young age can lead to serious hardship after completing treatments and moving into survivorship. Such was the case for Matthew Zachary after his cancer diagnosis at age 21. An interesting component to Zachary’s story—and that of many others like him—is that despite the higher number of insured Americans after the Affordable Care Act, costs and complications still plague patients. Access to health care can be a double-edge sword. It means more people are seeing providers, but it doesn't mean that people can afford those treatments.
Candidates’ Position Will Matter to Voters, Especially Health Care; Senate Confirms Robert Wilkie as Veterans Affairs Secretary; Trump Battle Over Drug Prices Heats Up
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report stating that coverage for pre-existing conditions ranks highest among healthcare campaign issues for American voters. According to the report, the issue cuts across all parties, including Democrats, Republicans, and voters living in battleground states. Since attempting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, 58% of those polled say that President Trump’s administration and the Republicans in Congress are responsible for problems with the healthcare law moving forward.
GOP Chairman in Talks With Trump Officials on Restarting Key Obamacare Payments; Oklahoma Medicaid Approved for Drug Pricing Experiment; House Panel Advances Bill That Would Temporarily Halt Obamacare’s Employer Mandate
On July 16, 2018, Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means Committee chair, announced that he’s working with the Trump administration to restore funding to key Affordable Care Act (ACA) payments. Previously, the White House suspended more than $10.4 billion in payments to insurers, which brought criticism from Democrats and stern warnings of rising healthcare premiums.
HHS Releases Blueprint for Affordable Prescription Drugs
Health care is arguably the top domestic policy issue and of major concern to most Americans. Coverage, access, and, most importantly, affordability are not abstract political concepts discussed in elite coffeehouse circles but rather are real-world problems that people struggle with daily. Do I need to see a physician for this problem? What impact will a diagnosis have on my life? Can I afford the medication?
Trump Officials Again Slash Funding for Obamacare Outreach Groups; Pfizer Postpones Price Hikes After Trump Criticism; Medicare for All Is New Democratic Mantra in Congressional Races
Previously, reports had emerged that the Trump administration was considering cuts to funding for Affordable Care Act (ACA) outreach groups whose aim has been to educate and assist Americans interested in enrolling in the healthcare program. On July 10, 2018, the administration officially announced funding cuts to the outreach programs, reducing their funding from $36 million to $10 million for 2019.
Childhood Cancer Act Signed Into Law; Study Finds That Many Patients With Breast Cancer Can Skip Chemo; Plan to Lower Drug Prices Could Increase Costs for Some Patients
It’s been a long time coming, but the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research (STAR) Act was finally signed into law on June 6 by President Trump. The act focuses on advancing pediatric cancer research and treatments along with improving screening programs and supporting patients into survivorship. As with many issues in the U.S. capital, the issue had two sides: many healthcare professionals see it as a win to support childhood cancer survivors, but it raised concerns for others about potential coverage issues.
HHS Pain Task Force Examines Opioid Epidemic Impact on Patients, Providers
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force held its first public meeting from May 30–31, 2018, in Washington, DC. Convened as part of 2016’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the task force has been charged to address the nation’s continued opioid abuse crisis. During the two-day meeting, the 28-member task force deliberated on the goals of an upcoming study, set to be released July 2019, that aims to update best practices and clinical guidelines, while also addressing gaps and inconsistencies in chronic and acute pain management.
White House Commission Reports on Drug Addiction and Opioid Epidemic
In the past few years, drug abuse and opioid addiction levels have grown to epidemic proportions. In 2016, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to decriminalize drug use and reclassify addiction as a disease. After President Obama signed CARA into law, the bill allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to combat the epidemic, alongside funding for Americans in need of addiction treatment and support.
Address the Challenge of Polypharmacy in Older Adults Undergoing Cancer Treatment
Polypharmacy is the use of several medications simultaneously for different medical conditions. Data confirm that polypharmacy is prevalent in older adults with cancer, with one study reporting a minimum of four prescriptions to define polypharmacy. Many medications prescribed during cancer care are intended to treat other comorbid conditions that occur prior to a patient’s cancer diagnosis (e.g., heart disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, reflux disease). Reportedly, one third of individuals older than 65 years use more than one pharmacy to fill prescription medications. This can lead to further confusion for patients regarding medication management.
FDA to Improve Review of Shared REMS Strategies for Generic Drugs
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioners will commonly use their roles to enact new changes that can have a lasting effect on public health for years to come. Despite only being in his position for a few months, Scott Gottlieb, MD, is on track to make a real impression as the head of the FDA.
CMS Finalizes Rule Reducing Medicare Part B Payments to 340B hospitals
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule on November 1, 2017 that would reduce the current Medicare Part B drug payment to 340B hospitals from average sales price (ASP) plus 6% to ASP minus 22.5%. However, rural sole community hospitals (SCHs), children’s hospitals, and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals are excluded from this payment adjustment in 2018.
FDA Commissioner Aims to Address Drug Pricing Issues; House Republicans Propose 12-Bill Appropriations Omnibus; Adults Don’t Recognize Harm of Vaping Around Kids
Since the campaign trail prior to the presidential election, Donald Trump has been drawing focus to the issue of high drug prices in the United States. In an effort combat the pricing issues, Trump appointed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, who recently announced the creation of the “drug competition action plan.” The plan would reduce the high cost of drugs in U.S. healthcare market by increasing the efficiency of approving generic medications of name-brand drugs.