Proposal to Reduce Medicare Drug Payments Is Widely Criticized

An Obama administration proposal to reduce Medicarepayments for many prescription drugs has run into sharp bipartisan criticism, suggesting that it is easier to diagnose the problem of high prices than to solve it.

Patients’ advocates have joined doctors and drug companies in warning that the federal plan could jeopardize access to important medications. Every member of the Senate Finance Committee — 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats — and more than 300 House members have expressed concern.

In a letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society said the proposal “does not protect cancer patients’ access to the lifesaving drugs needed to treat their disease.” The plan “focuses more on the potential for cost savings” than on how to preserve and enhance the quality of care, it said.

The administration says Medicare’s current payment formula rewards doctors for prescribing expensive drugs. Ms. Burwell has proposed a five-year nationwide test to encourage doctors to prescribe less expensive therapies under Part B of Medicare.

– The New York Times

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