Rule Restricting Copay Accumulators Has Been Reinstated, Court Clarifies

While many people had closed their laptops and were gearing up to open presents, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia offered a gift to patient advocates that have been fighting for restrictions on private health plans’ use of copay accumulator programs.

In September, Judge John Bates ruled in favor of a challenge brought by patient advocates — including the HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition and the Diabetes Leadership Council — to provisions in a 2021 rule that allowed group and individual health plans to apply copay accumulators even when drugs have no therapeutic alternative. Such programs prevent enrollees from counting any drug manufacturer discounts, like copay coupons, toward their deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Insurers and PBMs argue that copay accumulators are necessary to prevent copay coupons from steering patients to high-cost branded drugs — raising costs for everyone — but patient advocates contend that those coupons are necessary to promote affordability amid benefit designs that force patients to bear the brunt of their prescription drug costs.

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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