You may be hearing a lot about prescription drug prices in the news recently, with many of these discussions surrounding proposals from the Administration and members of Congress about ways to change Medicare. Although proposals to improve the Medicare system are always welcome, one recent method of choice for Part B, international referencing pricing, could harm seniors.
Part B is the part of Medicare that covers physician-administered treatments and outpatient hospital care, as well as other services. This is a very important part of the Medicare program and one that we want to preserve in order to protect seniors’ access to a full range of care options.
International referencing pricing proposals, including the Administration’s proposed International Pricing Index, would use the prices of medications in different countries to set the prices and reimbursement rates of Part B medications here in the United States. This may sound workable in theory, but in practice, history shows it could significantly undermine incentives in our healthcare system that increase access and patient choice.
In fact, many of the countries that would be used under this proposal – countries that have implemented reference pricing, already experience access issues.
If these types of policies are implemented, our current treatment plans, plans that we have carefully created with our doctors, could be disrupted in favor of more generalized treatment plans that value cost-saving over value-based care.
As seniors, it is critical that we advocate for the ability to receive the treatments that we know work best for our unique needs. International reference pricing could increase government involvement in our personalized health care plans, limit patient choice, and reduce seniors’ access to the variety of health care options we deserve!