Spending on Part D Drugs Soars, Wall Street Journal Analysis Finds

Medicare Part D beneficiaries have been buffeted by the high cost of drugs, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper’s review found that the annual out-of-pocket costs for about 220 drugs covered by Part D rose 86% from 2011 to 2015.

Sharply rising drug prices drive the trend, with new medicines often exceeding $50,000 a year, according to the newspaper’s analysis. “In addition, the complicated design of Part D requires patients to pay a percentage of their drugs’ total retail price, a particular burden for those who use expensive medicines,” the WSJ reported.

Adding the burden on Medicare Part D participants is the fact that the rebates offered by some pharmaceutical companies for high-priced drugs are not usually available to Part D beneficiaries.

Before leaving the job in January, Tim Gronniger oversaw drug-spending issues as deputy chief of staff at CMS. He told the WSJ: “There are a lot of patients who aren’t able to afford prescription drugs in Medicare. That’s a big problem, and it’s gotten worse over the last couple of years.”

Jane Norris, a CMS spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We agree that the pain patients are experiencing with drug prices is real and serious. Enhancing competition and eliminating unnecessary government regulation are important steps that will also help resolve the drug pricing issue.”

Source: Wall Street Journal