Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recently tapped former CVS executive Daniel Best to lead the agency’s effort to help lower drug prices for millions of Americans on Medicare coverage. Best was most recently a vice president of industry relations for the company’s Medicare Part D business and included CVS’s prescription drug plans, Medicare Part D plans and other clients.
“Daniel Best recognizes what President Trump and I, and every American know: prescription drug prices are too high,” Azar said in a statement announcing the appointment. “He has the deep experience necessary to design and enact reforms to lower the price of medicines that help Americans live healthier and longer lives.”
At a March 19 speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, President Donald Trump reaffirmed his pledge to lower prescription drug prices. “If you compare our drug prices to other countries in the world, in some cases it’s many times higher for the exact same pill or whatever it is, in the exact same package made in the exact same plant,” President Trump said during the speech. “We’re going to change that.”
The President has frequently spoken out about the amounts of money drug companies make from their relationships with CMS programs but until recently has not put words into action to help millions of seniors lower this portion of their health care costs. However, it still remains unclear how the addition of Best to the HHS will help aid in that effort.
However, in his budget last month, the President proposed a range of relatively modest steps, such as capping out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare enrollees and allowing up to five states to join together to negotiate drug prices in Medicaid. Hopefully, the reforms will do real and lasting good to help lower the cost for the varieties of specialty drugs that many rely on to help live longer, healthier lives.
Currently, most Medicare drug plans have a coverage gap referred to the “donut hole” which is a temporary limit on what the drug plan will cover for the enrollee’s drugs. The coverage gap begins after the individual has spent a certain amount for covered drugs and the person must then spend money out of pocket to obtain their necessary prescriptions. Although some work has been done to help close the Medicare donut hole, many elders across the country find themselves struggling in this position.