The politics and PR of drug pricing, part 2

This may be an ongoing series. Part 1 is here.

Health care industry CEOs from “100 hospital systems, insurance companies, large physician practices, trade groups and not-for-profits” favor government involvement in curbing drug price growth (Modern Healthcare, November 14, 2015):

A whopping 90% of CEOs responding to Modern Healthcare’s latest CEO Power Panel survey said rising drug costs were undermining their finances. Nearly half (45%) said the impact was “very negative.”

To deal with the issue, a surprising 86% of survey respondents supported giving the federal government the authority to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. […]

[A] pressing issue for many healthcare leaders are the high prices being placed on generic medications, including some that were long available at much lower costs. In the past, wider use of generics offered the savings that helped offset the high costs of brand-name therapies. […]

More than three-quarters of Power Panel CEO respondents (76%) felt prices either did not reflect or rarely reflected their clinical value, while only 10% said they did. […]

A whopping 83% supported value-based pricing, which links drug reimbursement to evidence of clinical value.

Drug prices are a top issue, and not just for health industry CEOs (The Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2015):

Both political parties see drug prices as an issue that resonates with voters. In an October survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 77% of Americans said making sure high-cost medications for chronic conditions are affordable should be a top health care priority for Congress and the president. […]

There are two main areas lawmakers may target. The first, and hardest, is fixing the root issues that lead to higher prices. Among them are drugs that remain on patent without generic equivalents, and the expense of creating newer biological-based drugs vs. traditional chemical-based ones.

The second challenge is how to soften the financial impact on consumers. Insurance carriers are requiring policyholders to pay more out of pocket for certain expensive drugs. Consumer advocates say such benefit plans discriminate against consumers with health issues such as HIV or hepatitis C. Carriers are deliberating discouraging consumers who are costlier to insure by denying them affordable access to care, they say.

And, by “lawmakers,” don’t think it’s just those in DC. Look what’s happening in California, for example (California Healthline, November 12, 2015):

The majority of Californians would support a ballot measure to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in the state, according to a poll by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. […]

The proposal would mandate that the state pay the same as or less than the rates paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription drug purchases. California currently pays billions of dollars for prescription drugs — both directly, such as for prison health care, and indirectly, such as for Medi-Cal and CalPERS managed care plans. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.


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