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Medicare safeguard overwhelmed by pricey drugs

National

Medicare safeguard overwhelmed by pricey drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — New government numbers show that a financial safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for pharmaceuticals to get billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015. […]

Medicare safeguard overwhelmed by pricey drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — New government numbers show that a financial safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for pharmaceuticals to get billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense.

The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015.

That’s according to the program’s Office of the Actuary, which provided the figures to The Associated Press.

Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection — Harvoni and Sovaldi— accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic costs in 2015.

Taxpayers cover 80 percent of catastrophic costs. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent.

The pharmaceutical industry is pushing back and saying the figures don’t count rebates, which aren’t publicly disclosed.

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