president trump drug pricing blueprint

TAKE CARE: Advocacy Blog Series

President Trump’s Drug Pricing Blueprint

We’re excited to continue our advocacy blog series meant to help you take care when it comes to important arthritis health care and coverage issues. If you are just now tuning into this series, check out our previous blog posts on accumulator adjustment programs and pharmacist gag orders.

This week, read on to learn more about President Trump’s drug pricing blueprint and the different policy areas that the plan addresses.

Why did the Administration decide to release a drug pricing blueprint?

On Friday, May 11 the Administration released its long-awaited plan, “Putting Patients First,” intended to help lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients. President Trump has spoken at length about the need to tackle prescription drug prices, and the blueprint released last week was an effort to follow through on that promise.

In response to the blueprint, the Arthritis Foundation released a brief statement on social media, expressing cautious optimism, but urging thoughtful development of proposals going forward.

What are the key components of the blueprint?

The blueprint is focused on four strategies that chiefly affect Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and certain younger people with disabilities:

  • Improving competition in the generic drug and biosimilar markets
  • Improving negotiation strategies for Medicare’s prescription drug program (Part D)
  • Creating incentives to lower the list prices of drugs
  • Reducing patient out-of-pocket spending

The proposals address many stakeholders in the drug supply chain, including drug companies, pharmacy benefit managers, and even the FDA. Many of the proposals target issues the Arthritis Foundation has been engaged in for some time now, and we hope this is an opportunity to bring all stakeholders together to put in place real solutions to help patients.

Are any of the proposals good news for the arthritis community?

Yes, we are encouraged by some initial steps offered in the blueprint that may reduce out-of-pocket spending. This includes prohibiting the use of so-called gag orders in Medicare Part D that prevent pharmacists from telling patients when their prescriptions could be cheaper. You can learn more about issues concerning gag orders and clawbacks in the last Take Care blog post.

Are there any concerns with the proposal?

Some of the ideas proposed in the blueprint have never been tried before and we will be mindful of unintended consequences. One example is moving some physician-administered drugs currently under Medicare Part B (the medical insurance benefit) to the Medicare Part D program, which has a different payment structure. One question we will consider is whether there will be any negative impact to patient access? Patients who are stable on an effective medication should be able to remain on that medication. 

What’s next for the blueprint?

The first thing to note is that any of the changes would take time. Most of them would need to go through a formal rule-making process that would allow individual consumers and organizations like the Arthritis Foundation to provide feedback. Some of the blueprint’s proposals would require the Administration to get support from Congress to change existing laws. It is unlikely that all the proposals in the blueprint will become a reality.

On May 14, the Administration released a broad request for information (RFI) on many of the proposals in the blueprint. The Arthritis Foundation is reviewing the RFI and will keep you informed as the process unfolds.

We understand that health care costs continue to be a complex issue for patients and all parts of the health care industry. We will continue to work diligently to identify solutions that put patients first. If you’d like to stay informed of federal and state-based health care issues, consider signing up to be an Advocate. Becoming a part of our Advocacy grassroots network is an easy way to get involved and stay informed.

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