Commentary: Delivering results on drug prices in Delaware

Just over a year ago, President Trump and his health secretary, Alex Azar, stood in the Rose Garden at the White House and told the American people they were going to start putting American patients first and lower prescription drug prices. The president announced a bold blueprint that would make good on this promise

Over the past year, we’ve seen action in every area of the president’s blueprint, which is helping people all across the country afford the drugs they need and save more of their hard-earned money.

Starting in July, for instance, drug companies will be required to include the price of their drugs in TV ads. While insurance can reduce the cost of the drugs you need, it’s important to know that you may owe the price displayed until you hit your deductible, or you may owe a share of the price displayed.

Having this information right in the ads will help you know if the drug you might ask your doctor about is actually affordable. One of the most commonly advertised drugs, which treats a skin condition, has a list price of $3,400 a month, but is only covered by one out of 25 Medicare Part D drug plans in Delaware —which means patients asking their doctor about the drug might owe that price every month.

That’s not the only way we’re helping you get more information. Last month, Medicare finalized a requirement that Part D plans provide a new tool for prescribers and patients that will help you actually understand what a drug might cost you, while you’re still in the doctor’s office.

Matthew Baker

Once you get to the pharmacy, thanks to work by the president and Congress, your pharmacist can always tell you when you’re getting the best deal on the drugs you need.

President Trump is also working to replace a broken system of kickbacks for middlemen with discounts that benefit you right at the pharmacy counter. For seniors who need expensive drugs, this change could mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings every year.

To expand access to safe, effective, low-cost drugs, the Food and Drug Administration under President Trump has been setting records for generic drug approvals. Since the President took office, more than 2,000 generic drugs have been approved, saving patients an estimated $26 billion in costs in just the first year and a half of the administration. Thanks to the FDA’s success, you now have more options to choose from when you get your prescription filled and may already be paying less for the drugs you need.

This month, we also finalized the expansion of tools for Medicare Advantage to lower seniors’ costs for expensive medications. These tools are commonly used to generate substantial savings in the private market; now they’ll be put to work for the 20 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

Finally, we announced and sought input on a bold new idea to ensure our country is getting a fair deal on the prices we pay for some of the most expensive prescription drugs relative to other countries.

It has been an incredible year of action, and the action is delivering results. Drug price inflation was negative in 2018, for the first time it had dropped for a whole year in 46 years.

But our work is far from finished. President Trump and Secretary Azar will continue charging ahead with delivering on our blueprint and putting American patients first.

That’s how the president is delivering on his health care promise: the affordability you need, the options and control you want, and the quality you deserve.

Matthew Baker is director of Health and Human Services Region III, which includes Delaware.

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