A new federal prescription drug policy will lower prices, Northeast Ohio health policy experts say

The White House unveiled a series of health policies and guidelines in December. 8, designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs and other health care by targeting anticompetitive practices by drug companies, hospitals and health insurance companies, according to administration officials.

The Biden administration’s proposal includes a framework establishing, for the first time, cost as a factor in determining whether to extend the licensing of new drugs or other medical treatments developed using taxpayer dollars to additional companies. The government will allow additional companies to sell the drug

The White House proposal would allow another company to make a drug if a corporation uses taxpayer dollars to develop it and then overcharges consumers.

Costs to consumers should be considered when deciding whether to extend licenses because taxpayers have helped fund the development of these new drugs and treatments, White House in-house counsel Neera Tanden said.

“When drug companies won’t sell taxpayer-funded drugs at reasonable prices, we will be willing to allow other companies to provide those drugs at a lower cost,” White House domestic policy adviser Lael Brainard said during briefing on 6 December. “If American taxpayers paid to help invent a prescription drug, pharmaceutical companies should sell it to the American public at a reasonable price.”

Local public health experts said this policy change should make a big difference for local consumers, especially seniors who live on fixed incomes.

That policy would put a bar on for-profit companies, Loren Antes of the Center for Community Solutions told Ideastream Public Media.

“I think it’s an appropriate regulatory response to make sure that, especially when it comes to tax dollars, that these entities achieve quality and efficiency appropriately and don’t leave behind … people who rely on Medicare and Medicaid and the marketplace and other services to receive health care in general,” he said.

The policy will help senior residents get the medications they need and other essential supports, said Tommy York of the Western Reserve Agency on Aging.

“For our people that we serve here who are on a limited income, to be able to go and get an EpiPen, it’s expensive,” he said. “It’s not always covered. It’s a life-saving treatment, right? So being able to negotiate prices and create competition … would allow our members, our consumers, to be able to afford life-saving treatment.”

It would also allow Medicare Advantage plans to spend more on other services, York said. Medicare Advantage are Medicare plans offered by private companies.

Applying savings from this proposed drug policy would allow those plans to “consider other additional benefits that could help reduce the social determinants of health,” he said. “It’s just part of the mind.”

These additional benefits go beyond health care, York said.

“Transportation, food insecurity, housing — I mean, there are all these other needs that still exist that we can pursue with these funds that are potentially being saved,” he said.

The proposal will now undergo a public comment period where the public and others, including companies and associations, can comment on the proposal. The public comment period ends on February 6.

In addition to this proposed drug pricing policy, the administration also announced plans to investigate what it says are a growing number of anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions in the health care industry that could lead to higher health care costs.

The White House is directing the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a joint request for information to consider “seeking information about how private equity and other corporations are increasing power and control over our health care affecting Americans.” ,” said a December 7 fact sheet issued by the White House. “The agencies will use this joint request for information to identify areas for future regulation and enforcement prioritization and will continue to work together on case referrals, reciprocal training programs, data sharing and further development of additional policy initiatives of competition in healthcare. “

The White House also announced that it plans to try to increase transparency about the ownership of health care facilities and the operation of Medicare Advantage plans.

Transparency about ownership of medical facilities helps consumers understand how different facilities stack up in terms of safety, costs and efficiency, according to the fact sheet.

“Transparency of ownership information enables identification of common owners with a history of poor performance, trend analysis of how market consolidation affects consumers, and assessment of links between ownership and changes in health care costs and outcomes,” the fact sheet says.

Transparency about Medicare Advantage plans will help ensure that these plans, which the White House says represent nearly 50 percent of Medicare enrollees nationwide, provide adequate access and quality coverage.

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