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Regulating Medicare drug prices is long overdue

Regulating Medicare drug prices is long overdue: We have all the evidence we need that the government can rein in drug prices effectively, and the steep increase in drug prices over the last 20 years should be proof enough that our commercial drug marketplace is not working. The fact that the government of every other developed country is able to limit drug prices only further confirms the need for the United States Congress to step in and allow Medicare to set a drug price ceiling.

Neither the private-sector pharmacy benefit managers nor the insurance companies have the power to ensure that prices for brand-name drugs are reasonable. In 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare spending rose 5.5% while prescription drug costs rose 16.9%–over three times more. If Medicare regulated drug prices, we’d all be better off.

We know that a U.S. government agency can effectively use its muscle to negotiate reasonable drug prices. The Veterans Administration and Medicaid both do a better job than Medicare at regulating prices because Congress allows them to do so. According to a recent Carleton University-U.S. PIRG study, the Medicare program pays 73% more than Medicaid and 80% more than the VA for brand-name drugs.

But, would regulating drug prices undermine innovation and restrict the supply of critical drugs, as opponents of regulation argue? There’s no evidence to suggest it would. Moreover, anyone who’s worried about restricting access to critical drugs should support drug-price regulation because it is the only way to ensure that millions of Americans can afford needed medicines.

For now, people must turn to international online pharmacies, rely on friends and family to help with the high cost of their drugs, split their dosages or forego their medications altogether. The U.S. can, should and, in fact, must do better for its people.

Here’s more from Just Care:

 

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3 Comments

  • Several of my Medicare prescriptions have increased in price this year from $5/month to $35/month. As it stands now, since my rent is increasing and SSI is probably not going to give a COLA next year, I will be trying to cut prescription cost by taking less and/or not taking the meds at all. Not only have my prescription costs increased but the costs of OTC meds, that my doctor insists that I take, are increasing too. I have pretty good retirement income but when some of my meds increase 700% in cost I won’t be able to meet my needs for basic necessities for much longer.

    • Same situation here. My insurer moved one of my meds from Tier 1 to Tier 2, still affordable, and quit covering another one at all, and buying it not covered would be $160 a month. Friend told me to check GoodRX website and I now get the “not covered” med from my same pharmacy for $9.26. Was very skeptical at first but just refilled it for the third time at that price, so believe it now. Don’t know what your meds are, but you should check GoodRX.Com and see if it has a better price. Alternatively, check out Canadian pharmacies online. Before I had Medicare, I got my meds from them with no problem and much cheaper. Good luck. The no COLA increase has hurt all of us badly.

  • Military insurance prescription coverage is also regulated and prices are very reasonable. Again, why not for the rest of us?

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