With all the talk of slashing federal budget deficits, guess what the Obama Fiscal Commission wants to put on the table? As the headline indicates, yes, Medicare Part D rebates paid by drugmakers, according to the draft proposal, which which also suggests lowering payments to doctors and lawyers, among other things. Rebates would be required as a condition of participating in Medicare Part D (see page 32here).
Another suggestion is to strengthen the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created to control Medicare costs if Congress fails to act on its own. The panel is supposed to get started in 2015, but drugmakers are fighting to eliminate it before that happens. Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry, which negotiated a health care reform deal with the White House, is angry.
"Unfortunately, the commission’s proposals would impose government price controls in Medicare Part D and expand the powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would inhibit seniors’ access to needed care and the ability of innovative sectors to invest in the next generation of medical advances," says Wes Metheny,a senior vp with the PhRMA trade group. "We expect that many of the proposals included in this initial draft, such as increasing seniors' cost-sharing in Medicare by more than $100 billion, will receive much scrutiny in the coming weeks and months."
The proposal is certainly going to become contentious, especially after PhRMA agreed to contribute $80 billion over a decade in health care savings, in part by cutting prices of some drugs to close a coverage gap for seniors on Medicare. The added business is forecast to compensate for that decision. But the commission wants to change the overall equation. This will now, no doubt, raise a debate about pricing policies, R&D investments and the greater good. There is that yawning budget deficit. But what do you think?
Should Medicare Part D Rebates Be Raised?
- No (59%, 53 Votes)
- Yes (41%, 38 Votes)
Total Voters: 90