Slow Medicare spending protects pharma from payment board intravention

Drugmakers got good news about Medicare drug prices two years out, at least kind of. The good news is that the dreaded Independent Payment Advisory Board will not be in play for 2015 drug prices. The not-so-good news is that a piece of the Obama healthcare act is not coming into play because spending by Medicare on drugs has been so slow, Bloomberg reports. The board was put into the law to suggest ways to reduce costs if Medicare spending exceeds certain targets, and this was the first year in which it might have been triggered. The board has been opposed by the drug industry, which thinks it could lead to the kinds of pricing pressures it now faces in Europe. Republicans have sought repeal of the provision, and the President has yet to appoint any members. The actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a memo it was triggered because it now projects Medicare spending per patient to grow at only 1.15% from 2011 to 2015, and it would have to grow at 3.03% for the board to come into play. Story | More

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