Looks like the potential of Medicare being able to negotiate drug prices will not come to a reality anytime soon. Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute defending the Trump administration’s blueprint for lowering drug prices.
No government drug price negotiating in sight
Azar said the Trump administration “does not believe in” Medicare drug price negotiations. His argument is that the free market can drive down the costs of drug prices. He referenced a 2007 Congressional Budget Office Study that said that negotiating drug prices would not generate a huge amount of savings. Azar said the only way negotiation would save money is by denying access to specific medications or by setting prices for all drugs by a government decree, which would lead us in the wrong direction, according to Azar.
This goes directly against Trump’s campaign promise to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Most Americans are for Medicare negotiating drug prices, a power that already works at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Shift from Part B to Part D
The Trump plan to lower drug prices would move some drugs that are now covered under Part B under Part D, in order to allow for free market negotiation of lower prices on some of these Part B drugs that are administered in a doctor’s office or clinic. There is the concern that then these Part B drugs would become too costly, but Azar plans to do a demonstration and try out whether they could get lower costs on these drugs to lower or eliminate the out-of pocket costs.
Pharmaceutical companies are against the shift from Part B to Part D, but Azar warned them to get in line with the plan.