US The Latest: Trump aims to reduce drug costs under Medicare

04:46  09 february  2018
04:46  09 february  2018 Source:   Associated Press

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(Reuters) - The Trump administration on Thursday proposed changes to Medicare drug plans including limits on opioid prescriptions and rules aimed at reducing drug costs for seniors, such as requiring health insurers to pass on discounts to consumers.

The administration has quietly abandoned his campaign pledges to let Medicare negotiate drug prices and import cheaper medicines from overseas. A leaked draft of Trump ’s executive order on drug prices contained few policies that would substantially reduce drug costs . | This article tagged under

A senior taking medication. © Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images A senior taking medication.

WASHINGTON — The Latest on proposals by President Donald Trump and in the Senate budget bill to lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries (all times local):

9 p.m.

President Donald Trump is proposing to lower prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries by allowing them to share in rebates that drug companies pay to insurers and other middlemen.

A senior administration official outlined the plan on condition of anonymity Thursday ahead of the release of Trump's 2019 budget plan next week.

Pharmaceutical companies now pay rebates to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to help their medications gain a bigger slice of the market.

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The Trump administration proposed changes to Medicare drug plans including limits on opioid prescriptions and rules aimed at reducing drug costs for seniors, such as requiring health insurers to pass on discounts to consumers.

Generally, under Medicare Part B, doctors are reimbursed the average sale price of a drug plus an additional 6% premium. Specific drugs involved would be selected later , based on clinical analysis with external input. Under the test, cost sharing would be eliminated for some in the test.

Insurers apply savings from rebates to keep premiums more manageable.

Under Trump's proposal, seniors covered by Medicare's "Part D" prescription benefit would be able to share in the rebates for individual drugs that they purchase at the pharmacy.

The plan also expands Medicare's "catastrophic" drug benefit so many seniors with very high costs would not face copayments.

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6:29 p.m.

The congressional budget deal would shift a bigger share of Medicare's medication costs to drug companies, a change that could help limit future increases in beneficiaries' premiums for prescription coverage.

Changes to Medicare's popular "Part D" prescription plan headline a long list of budget-deal tweaks to the government's premier health insurance program, which covers about 60 million seniors and disabled people.

Also, the drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole" would be eliminated one year earlier than currently scheduled, in 2019 instead of 2020.

Another provision would raise premiums paid by the wealthiest retirees for coverage of outpatient services and prescription drugs.

And the deal would permanently repeal current limits on outpatient rehab services, such as physical and occupational therapy. Previously, Congress had routinely waived the therapy caps

Winners and losers under Medicare drug plan in Trump budget .
<p>Some Medicare beneficiaries would face higher prescription drug costs under President Donald Trump's budget even as the sickest patients save thousands of dollars, a complex trade-off that may make it harder to sell Congress on the plan in an election year.</p>In budget documents, the administration said its proposals strike a balance between improving the popular "Part D" prescription benefit for the 42 million seniors enrolled, while correcting design flaws that increase program costs for taxpayers. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is expected to testify on the proposal later this week in Congress.

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