A Medicare and CMS Three-Sixty
According to Jane Zhang and Vanessa Fuhrmans of the Wall Street Journal, on January 10, 2009, the last days of the Bush administration saw a proposed ban that allows private insurers to charge Medicare beneficiaries stiff penalties if they choose brand-name drugs instead of cheaper generic drugs.
Referenced Based Pricing
Under reference-based drug pricing, the penalty for insisting on a brand-name drug often amounts to the price difference between the drug and the generic version, plus a copayment. In some cases, that leaves patients paying the full price of the brand-name drug. In contrast, buyers of brand-name drugs when there is no generic equivalent are charged just a copayment. Nearly 10% of drug plans used the pricing technique to steer beneficiaries to lower-cost generics www.HealthDictionarySeries.com
Of course, the announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services came after lawmakers and patient advocates protested that reference-based pricing made it difficult for consumers to calculate drug costs.
But, the agency reversed itself 360 degrees this week, proposing to ban such pricing for the 2010 drug plans. The WSJ reported that complicated formulas made it “very difficult to accurately convey the extent of expected out-of-pocket spending” for prescription drugs. And, “The basis for this decision is our belief that reference-based pricing may be inherently misleading to beneficiaries and inconsistent with our goal of improving transparency.”
The Pfizer-Wyeth Drug Deal
Following the ban, investors appeared skeptical about the just announced Pfizer-Wyeth drug deal. Pfizer will pay $68 billion for Wyeth, which is the biggest in the drug sector since 2000. The merger comes as Pfizer faces the difficult hurdle of dealing with patent expirations for some of its biggest drugs, including its cholesterol-lowering Lipitor, which makes up about 25% of the company’s overall sales.
The ban is part of CMS’s criteria for prescription-drug plans that insurers will offer for 2010. The criteria won’t be final until March, leaving a narrow window for the Obama administration to change them.
Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.
Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com
OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:
- PRACTICES: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com
- HOSPITALS: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781466558731
- CLINICS: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439879900
- ADVISORS: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org
- FINANCE: Financial Planning for Physicians and Advisors
- INSURANCE: Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors
- Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance
- Dictionary of Health Information Technology and Security
- Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care