Health Policy Updates: November 25 2017

New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation on prescription drug spending in Medicare. I found the out-of-pocket cost burden to be particularly notable – over $3,000 on average for patients hitting the catastrophic threshold, which will include most cancer patients.


A couple of pieces this week analyzing what the White House could do (if it truly wanted) to lower drug prices. This comes in the wake of the nomination of Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, for HHS secretary.

The first, from , noting three separate, feasible policy strategies that could lower prices:

“Finally, Trump and Azar could bring the pharmaceutical industry to the negotiating table for excessively priced essential drugs covered by government payers such as Medicare and Medicaid. Current law allows federal programs to seek competitive bids for patented medicines, even if they come from companies other than the patent holder.”

The second describes and analyzes the actions that White House has already taken to start to address drug prices:

“Several health policy experts noted that although the new policies spare pharmaceutical companies any direct intervention, they are aimed at fixing real market distortions and are grounded in evidence. They may also reflect the levers the government can easily pull without legislative action.”

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