May 10, 2019
Beginning in May of last year, the Trump administration began searching for ways to curb out-of-control prescription drug costs-referring to the initiative as American Patients First. This effort is finally seeing some traction, with the administration publishing its first final rule on the matter. Drug companies will now be "... required to disclose to patients the list price for prescription drugs in TV ads," according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
More specifically, the rule requires prescriptions covered by Medicare or Medicaid that cost $35 or more per month for a typical course of therapy to be disclosed. Drugs under that threshold are unaffected.
HHS points out that the 10 most commonly advertised drugs range in price from several hundred to several thousands of dollars for a typical month of treatment. If patients don't understand all of their options or how expensive certain drugs are, they can be on the hook for way more than they could ever afford.
This new rule aims to increase price transparency and better protect consumers. HHS hopes this transparency will also incite competition and "... [bring] free market forces to a system full of perverse incentives."
This rule won't take effect until 60 days after its publication, so employers should expect to see action starting in July. Employers should prepare for increased employee questions regarding drug costs.
Stay tuned for more information on industry developments.
On May 9, 2019, President Donald Trump delivered a speech criticizing the practice of surprise medical billing. He announced a general plan of attack and hinted at a few specifics for curbing the trend.
The president's speech aligned with this administration's American Patients First initiative-a blueprint for lowering consumer health costs. Here are the four main regulatory aspects called out by the president, suggesting that they might be tackled first:
President Trump went on to state that any legislation would cover all health insurance, regardless of how it was acquired. This means individual and group coverage would still be afforded these protections.
In summary, this announcement keeps with this administration's commitment to lowering consumer health care costs through greater transparency.
The president ended the speech saying that the administration will be going even further to help curb "out-of-control" drug costs. He even hinted at future legislation that would be announced as soon as two weeks, touting it as "one of the strongest things we've done as an administration." This means employers should stay tuned for more developments as further price-lowering initiatives are unveiled and plan specifics are laid out.
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