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Feb
8

PBMs and Part D

There is an excellent objective review of the role of PBMs in managing Part D costs at California HealthLine. While I hesitate to summarize what is already a summary, here are the main points.
1. The absence of any “transparency” requirements in the Part D enabling legislation makes it impossible to determine without legal investigation how PBMs may benefit from rebates and other confidential financial transactions.
2. There was an amendment proposed that would have addressed this but it was shot down due to the administrative expense ($40 billion over ten years).
3. Self-dealing, namely the direction of patients to a PBM-owned pharmacy, is not illegal, and is a likely fallout from Part D. This is not bad per se, as mail order costs are significantly cheaper, and the home delivery service means folks do not have to get out of the house to get their scripts (which may actually be a good or bad thing).
4. Not noted is the failure of the legislation to allow CMS to negotiate drug prices, not even as a last resort. I don’t get this.
PBMs Medco, Express Scripts, and Caremark have been besieged by allegations of impropriety, civil complaints, and customer action. While this PBM-pharmacy manufacturer-pharmacy-CMS-employer-patient thing is enough to make your head spin, this will confuse you even more –
If PBMs screw up really badly and lose a lot of money during the next two years, the taxpayers will bail them out .
What does this mean for you?
less faith in “free-market” capitalism?


Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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