Nov 22, 2019

Generics wait years for Medicare coverage

Adapted from The Association for Accessible Medicines analysis; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Medicare is taking years longer than private insurance to cover some generic drugs, meaning seniors could be paying more for their prescriptions, according to Access for Affordable Medicines, a lobbying group for the generic drug industry.

Between the lines: A 2017 policy change made the distinction between generics and brand-name drugs unclear, forcing the two types to compete within the same formulary tiers, Bloomberg notes.

Yes, but: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has argued this policy keeps Medicare premiums down by encouraging flexibility in the plan's design and increasing negotiating leverage with drugmakers, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.

Go deeper: The downside of cheap generics

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More older Americans rely on Medicare and Medicaid

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Retirement in America is growing less secure, physically and financially, given the omnipresent threat and cost of serious illness or disease.

Why it matters: Qualifying for Medicare does not guarantee that older adults will skirt potentially ruinous medical bills. Millions of seniors have also come to rely on the taxpayer-funded program for lower income people — Medicaid — and there's no indication that will slow down.

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019

The state of prescription drug spending

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary; Chart: Axios Visuals

Spending on prescription drugs in 2018 — both through premiums and out-of-pocket costs — grew a moderate 2.5% from the previous year, which was below the growth rates for hospital and doctor services.

Yes, but: That doesn't give a true accounting of total pharmaceutical spending. Spending on common and expensive drugs that are administered by providers is buried within the hospital and doctor statistics.

Go deeperArrowDec 9, 2019

Moderate muscle rises against Dems’ 2020 left

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The early boom for 2020 Democrats' left turn is yielding to moderate muscle as Elizabeth Warren falls, Joe Biden persists and Pete Buttigieg rises.

  • What's happening: Poll after poll shows voters like the idea of Medicare for All. But the second you tell them about costs and tradeoffs, they turn on it.
  • Why it matters: A harsh spotlight on Warren's specifics collided with Mike Bloomberg's massive spending on a moderate message, as well as rising angst among donors and investors about risks of Warren-Sanders socialism.
Go deeperArrowNov 29, 2019