On their final day in office, the outgoing Trump Administration, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced a new proposal that would undermine key patient protections in Medicare's prescription drug program. Indeed, policy outlined in a new Request for Applications (fact sheet) would allow Medicare Part D plans that participate in the third year of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s (CMMI) Part D Payment Modernization (PDM) Model to limit the drugs they cover, including denying patients access medications used to manage complex conditions such as cancer, mental illness, HIV-AIDS, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and organ transplantation. The Biden Administration will have authority to determine whether the new policy is ultimately implemented.
This post originally appeared in Fierce Healthcare on July 16, 2019.
A new study found a Trump administration proposal to rein in prices on certain drugs under Medicare Part D would have made drugs less accessible to patients. The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, explored price hikes over a five-year span for products in protected classes. Medicare Part D requires plans to add to their formularies products in six classes that include antidepressants, antipsychotics and immunosuppressants.
This post originally appeared in STAT News on May 16, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is backing off a controversial proposal to chip away at existing safeguards that require Medicare to cover all drugs for conditions like depression and AIDS. The initial proposal, which would have allowed private Medicare plans to refuse to pay for certain drugs for chronic conditions that spiked in price, was met with widespread criticism almost as soon as it was proposed last November. The Trump administration had suggested the change would help lower drug prices by giving private Medicare plans more leverage over high-cost drugs. But patient advocates and drug makers said it would jeopardize patient care in life-threatening situations.
This post originally appeared in Inside Health Policy on May 16, 2019.
Two consecutive administrations have failed to follow through with proposals to weaken Medicare Part D coverage protections in six drug classes. CMS again scrapped the idea in a final Part D rule it issued Thursday (May 16). When it proposed the rule last November, the agency had called for letting Part D plans exclude drugs in protected classes from formularies when their makers raise prices faster than inflation or when drug companies make new formulations of drugs already on the market. The proposed rule also called for allowing Part D plans to more broadly use step therapy and prior authorization for protected class drugs.
This post originally appeared in POLITICO on May 17, 2019.
Assorted health care interests expressed relief Thursday following CMS' decision not to move forward with changes that would have let Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans limit coverage of drugs in six categories known as “protected classes.” Some of the interests even expressed optimism policymakers won’t try to change the benefit again now that both Donald Trump and Barack Obama each failed to generate the needed political support for modification. Under the status quo, Part D plans must cover all drugs in the six protected classes: antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anticonvulsants, immunosupressants for transplant rejection, antiretrovirals and cancer drugs.
As designed by Congress, Medicare’s six protected classes policy guarantees access to treatments for Medicare patients with the most complex conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, mental health conditions, epilepsy, organ transplants, and Parkinson’s
Washington D.C. — The Partnership for Part D Access, a broad-based coalition of health care stakeholders including over 20 diverse patient advocacy organizations, commended the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for not finalizing a proposal that would have substantially weakened Medicare’s six protected classes policy.
Partnership Applauds House Appropriations Committee for Report Expressing Concerns on ‘Six Protected Classes’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2019
Contact: Shea McCarthy
Washington D.C. — The Partnership for Part D Access, a broad-based coalition of health care stakeholders including over 20 diverse patient advocacy organizations, applauded the House Appropriations Committee for their report on the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor-HHS-Education spending measure, which raises concerns with a proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to weaken Medicare’s six protected classes policy.
This post originally appeared in Inside Sources on April 8, 2019.
When Congress passed Medicare Part D in 2003, it took steps to protect patients in the midst of a health crisis. When time is of the essence and the stakes are life-and-death, that is not when Washington bureaucrats or health insurers should be trying to eke out cost savings. But now unelected officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are moving to strip those safeguards from law.
Leading stakeholders within the HIV/AIDS community recently penned op-eds outlining the detrimental effects that the Trump administration's proposed drug pricing rule would have on patients. The authors astutely note that a "one-size-fits-all" approach is the wrong solution given the complexity of the disease as well as the individual needs of HIV patients. Stakeholders also emphasized that reliance on step therapy and prior authorization would create additional barriers to access for lifesaving treatments.
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