Critics push back against new Medicare Part B payment proposals

When the Obama administration announced its plan to test new ways of paying for prescription drugs under Medicare Part B, a slew of criticism from industry stakeholders quickly followed--though some say they see potential in the new models.

Drug manufacturers and cancer doctors believe the government's proposals put too much focus on saving money and too little on ensuring patients' access to treatment, according to the New York Times. Indeed, groups such as the Community Oncology Alliance and the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) have had sharp criticsm for the new proposals, FierceHealthPayer has reported. 

Leslie B. Fried, a health lawyer at the National Council on Aging, had a more measured view. "If this is a way to take account of the value of treatments and control Part B costs, that's a good thing," she tells the Times. But we also have to be concerned about access to care for beneficiaries. It's a balance."

The three Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, though, say the Obama administration's decision to test the new payment methods was not at all transparent and "could limit access to the critical care the sickest Medicare beneficiaries rely on."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt defended the agency's proposals, saying that it could be a way to increase patient access to potentially life-saving medication, according to an article from The Hill. Speaking at the annual PhRMA conference, Slavitt stressed that the plan was still in the early stages, and that the agency would be soliciting feedback for several months.

"There is nothing that we propose to do, or should do, in any way, that prevents a patient from getting a prescription medicine that they need," Slavitt said.

To learn more:
- here is the New York Times article
- read the GOP commitee chairmen's statement
- here is The Hill article

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