MedPAC: Part D spending grew 26% from 2013 to 2018 thanks to higher launch prices

Medicare Part D spending grew by 26% from 2013 to 2018, with higher prices and not increasing prescriptions as the main culprits, a new analysis from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found.

The analysis was part of a report from MedPAC sent to Congress on Tuesday. The analysis found that while Part D spending increased, spending on services covered under the physician fee schedule remained flat.

“Consistent with our previous analysis, in 2018, there was a modest positive correlation between levels of clinician service use and Part D drug use,” the report said. “This finding is not surprising, given that most prescriptions are written by clinicians during office visits.”

MedPAC found a wide variation in the per capita drug use from 2013 to 2018.

“Growth in per capita drug use during this period ranged from -22% in the Kansas portion of the St. Joseph, Missouri-Kansas geographic area, to 40% in the El Centro California, geographic area,” the report found.

RELATED: KFF: Small number of Medicare Part D, B drugs make up most spending

While spending on Part D rose in the five-year period, MedPAC found a slight decline in the use of clinician services in Parts A and B.

Clinician service use as a share of all Part B and A services declined from 24.3% in 2013 to 23.8 five years later, the report found.

The analysis comes more than a week after the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to the Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab, which the manufacturer Biogen will sell for $56,000 a year. The high price tag and large amount of Medicare patients on Alzheimer’s has caused questions from experts about how the expensive drug will impact the program.