HHS Rallies Behind Drug Price Negotiation, Part D Reform

As Congress considers expanding Medicare benefits through the budget reconciliation process, a new HHS report expresses the agency’s support for “bold legislative action” to bring down drug prices and outlines a “comprehensive” plan that includes several administrative actions it could take to promote competition among drug companies. Notably, the report calls for legislation allowing HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to directly negotiate drug prices with manufacturers for coverage under the Medicare Parts B and D programs and to make those prices available to other payers, and the exploration of various concepts by the CMS Innovation Center.

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation on Sept. 9 issued the report in response to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which called for a multitude of actions from HHS, including lowering the prices of and improving access to prescription drugs and biosimilars. Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering adding dental, hearing and vision benefits to fee-for-service Medicare as part of a $3.5 trillion spending package that Senate Democrats aim to pass via budget reconciliation, and drug pricing has been viewed as a way to pay for those enhancements.

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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