Kohl backs drug-spending cuts focused on Medicare Part B

As promised, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) has put forth a bill that would cut U.S. drug spending by billions of dollars over the next decade. It's not exactly a death by a thousand cuts, but the 6 new policies he proposes are sure to prompt responses from the industry. Look for debate, lobbying and a press release from PhRMA, for starters.

Kohl's proposals aren't big surprises; they include measures that have been well debated on Capitol Hill, at industry meetings, and in the media. Still, they're now here in actual legislative language, with cost-saving estimates attached. The biggest spending cut would come from applying Medicaid rebates to Medicare Part B drugs, which include doctor-administered injectables and some oral cancer meds. Kohl's staff figures that would save between $36 billion and $44 billion over 10 years.

Another measure would give the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services license to negotiate Part B prices when the government is the product's primary purchaser, taking that price-setting power away from drugmakers. The bill would also codify the old "least costly alternative" policy. And in a move that won't make doctors any happier than it does pharma, it would cut the 6% payment on Part B drugs, which Kohl figures incentivizes physicians to use more expensive drugs.

Other portions of the bill would affect pharmacy benefits managers, nursing-home prescriptions, and discounts on drugs for safety-net hospitals and long-term care programs.

- see the release from the Senate Committee on Aging

Suggested Articles

Besides paying $729 million to settle notorious kickback allegations, Novartis has promised to put strict restrictions on its future speaker programs.

Pharma companies including Pfizer and Novartis paused advertising on Facebook for July to protest hate and disinformation on the platform.

CureVac and Tesla are teaming up to produce the German vaccine maker's molecular RNA printers, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Thursday.