Drug price reductions for patients on the Medicare Part D prescription drug program was put off by the CMS (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) yesterday.
The issue is whether the discounts that pharmacy benefit managers negotiate for drugs should go toward lowering the price that a patient pays at the pharmacy.
In a call with reporters on Monday, Seema Verna, CMS Administrator, said a decision needs more evaluation. She declined to provide a timeline for making a decision.
Drug Price: Confusion Reigns
It’s unclear whether lowering the amount of money that the patient pays at the pharmacy would lower health care spending. Patients would pay less according to a CMS analysis , but the government would pay more.
Verma said two policies that were released Monday will directly lower costs for consumers. One change lowers the cost of generic drugs for low-income patients. A second change provides Medicare beneficiaries to access new generic drugs more quickly. CMS estimates both changes will save significant amounts of money.
Currently, Medicare beneficiaries have to wait until the next open enrollment period before newly approved generic drugs would be available with their insurance. Once the change goes into effect, insurance plans can choose to make them available sooner.
These changes go into effect on January 1, 2019.