Trump Takes Action on Lowering Medicare Drug Prices

Medicare drug prices continue to increase making it harder for seniors to afford, President Trump decided to take action. Trump proposed a plan to bring down the prices of Medicare drugs by giving back to customers and focusing on raising foreign drug prices.

The federal government is not allowed to negotiate Medicare drug prices, so Trump said his plan will work without needing Congress’ approval. Insurers get discounts for the expensive name brand drugs, which are negotiated by pharmacy managers. Trump wants these rebates and discount distributed to the customers, which would help lower the prices. President Trump’s plan is to give at least one-third of the rebates to beneficiaries.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, stated that the rebates are a “convoluted system,” because they allow manufacturers to raise list prices. This, in turn, increases the amount of money that insurers and pharmacy benefit managers collect in rebates, giving them no incentive to keep prices down.

“When prices go up, patient cost-sharing also goes up,” she said in a speech before the American Hospital Association earlier this week. “We’ve all noticed the increase in the amount we have to pay at the pharmacy counter. For seniors who are sometimes on fixed incomes, the pain is real. This is not acceptable.”

The Trump administration wants to raise the prices of foreign drugs in order to reduce the drug prices at home. The reasoning for this is because foreign places keep their prices low while Americans continue to pay highly for their drugs. The foreign countries benefit from America paying high prices for these drugs and essentially their development. “The United States both conducts and finances much of the biopharmaceutical innovation that the world depends on, allowing foreign governments to enjoy bargain prices for such innovations,” the council’s report said. “Simply put, other nations are free-riding, or taking unfair advantage of the United States’ progress in this area.”

The Food & Drug Administration is focusing on trying to introduce more generic drugs that are identical to name brand drugs. This way customers can opt to buy the generic brand and save some money. The agency is hoping that by producing more generic drugs will increase competition and eventually bring down the pricing of brand-name drugs.

Seniors have been struggling to obtain the medications they need due to how expensive they are. Some have to make drastic changes in order to get these medications because they can die without them. There are still talks amongst the Trump administration about reducing Medicare drug prices and they are hoping to make some positive changes in 2019.