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Data: Jama Internal Medicine; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Medicare would have saved an average of nearly $12 billion per year if it had the Department of Veterans Affairs' ability to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, according to researchers writing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. And that's just for 50 drugs.

Yes, but: Those savings would also require Medicare to say "no" to covering some drugs — a shift from the current policy, in which Medicare pays for almost all FDA-approved medications.

Details: Discounts on expensive brand-name drugs like Harvoni, Crestor and Xarelto would have led to large portions of the savings in the Medicare Part D program, according to the researchers. The analysis did not factor in injectable drugs like insulin, or drugs administered in hospitals and doctors' offices.

The bottom line: There is a tradeoff here. Medicare could save a lot of money by copying what the VA does, but Medicare would have to be willing to restrict access to some drugs.

  • However, according to prior research by Austin Frakt, a health economist within the VA system in Boston, the amount Medicare would save from discounted drugs would exceed the dollar value of Medicare patients losing some choice in what drugs they can take.

Go deeper

Trump signs bill to prevent government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and President Trump arrives at the U.S. Capitol in March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump signed a bill to extend current levels of government funding into the new fiscal year, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed early Thursday.

Driving the news: The Senate on Tuesday passed the legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Updated 19 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.

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