Seniors Want Feds to Negotiate Medicare Prices with Drugmakers

According to a survey put out Tuesday by AARP, for people 50 and older, the federal government should negotiate drug prices for Medicare and force drug makers to explain how they set drug prices.

The survey resulted in more than 93% of adults 50 and older saying they favored the Medicare price negotiations, a policy advocated by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

The percentage of respondents supporting government negotiations was up from 87% in 2007, which was the last time AARP asked the question. The group has not done a drug price survey since 2008.

As reported by USA Today, “Medicare has a louder voice and would be a better negotiator,” says Leigh Purvis, director of health services research in AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

According to Jayne O’ Donnell of USA Today, “there was high support overall for more transparency on the part of pharmaceutical companies. Nearly all — 98% — said they should be able to compare the price and effectiveness of prescription drugs, a concept that’s been gaining traction. Insurance companies are increasingly using claims data to come up with “clinical pathways” they recommend to doctors for cancer treatment. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has a “drug abacus” to help weigh the effectiveness of drugs against the costs.”

AARP has been a supporter of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services negotiating directly with drugmakers, rather than leaving it to the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that handle the Medicare Part D drug plans. According to healthcare experts that approach wouldn’t likely bring prices down much unless there was one national formulary that everyone was on.

Sources: USA Today, AARP, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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