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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.

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Tulsa health official: Trump rally "likely contributed" to coronavirus spike

President Trump speaks at his campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. on June 20, 2020. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Why it matters: Public health officials, including Dart himself, had urged the campaign to postpone the rally, fearing that a large indoor gathering with few people wearing masks could accelerate the spread of the virus.