Mar 22, 2019

CVS planning ahead for Trump rebate rule

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for CVS Pharmacy

Drug companies haven't pledged to lower their prices once the Trump administration finalizes a rule to overhaul the rebate system used by pharmacy benefit managers. CVS Health is asking drugmakers to at least not start charging more.

Driving the news: CVS Health has sent letters to 60 pharmaceutical companies asking them not to increase the net cost of their drugs — the price after factoring in rebates — in response to the Trump administration's rule.

Between the lines: The timing will be tight on this regulation once it's finalized (there's some talk of it being delayed, for that reason) — leaving insurers without much time to restructure their Medicare drug plans for a new reality without PBM rebates.

  • Due to that tight timing, to prevent sudden last-minute premium hikes, CVS is asking drugmakers to commit to not raising the price insurance plans will pay for their drugs, no matter how the specifics of the rebate rule shake out.
  • Medicare drug plans have relied on drugmakers' existing prices as they designed their plans for next year, and will have to redesign those plans (probably with bigger premium hikes) if drugmakers raise their prices, the letter says.

What they're saying: "What we're asking is very simple help minimize uncertainty for plan sponsors and lessen the financial burden on beneficiaries and taxpayers by making this commitment," CVS spokesman T.J. Crawford said.

Go deeper: Refresher on Trump's major shakeup in the way we pay for drugs

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More states issue stay-at-home orders as coronavirus crisis escalates

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Florida and Georgia governors ordered all residents to stay at home late Wednesday, with exceptions for those engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: In a matter of weeks, the number of states that issued orders nearly quadrupled, affecting almost 300 million Americans.

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White House recommends Americans wear masks in public

New Yorker wearing a homemade face covering. Photo: Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The White House announced that the CDC is recommending Americans wear cloth masks or face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump said at a press briefing on Friday — emphasizing the guidance is "voluntary."

Why it matters: The use of face coverings could stop people who have the virus, whether they have symptoms or not, from spreading it further when they go out in public.

Trump calls to fill up more places with oil

President Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil, in the wake of rock-bottom prices and an ensuing economic collapse of the sector itself.

Driving the news: Trump’s comments came Friday during a televised portion of a meeting he hosted with industry CEOs to discuss ways to help the sector. It’s reeling from a historic drop-off in demand with the world shutting down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.