The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated its Drug Spending Dashboards (Dashboards) with data for 2017.
CMS first released these Dashboards in May of 2018 to provide more information on the manufacturers that provide the drugs, and are also responsible for price increases. The Dashboards also include pricing and spending data for thousands of drugs through Medicare Parts B and D and Medicaid.
CMS Dashboards are Beneficial to Everyone
The Dashboards primarily emphasize average spending by the dosage unit for prescription drugs that are paid under Medicare Parts B, D and Medicaid. They also track the change in average spending per dosage over time. CMS provides this information via an interactive web-based tool to help researchers and consumers sort through the data to identify trends and track prices. The dashboard can help identify drugs that have few manufactures thus limiting competition. One can also find information on a particular drug’s clinical indications and uses to better serve patients and physicians alike when price comparing medications based on a particular condition.
These Dashboards are an increased effort taken by the CMS to help consumers by increasing the transparency on drug prices. There have been recent proposals that would require prescription drug manufacturers to include list prices in their tv advertisements to demonstrate this transparency. There has also been recently proposed state legislation that was implemented in late 2018 by several states ending the practice of pharmacy gag clauses. When gag clauses are in effect, pharmacists are not allowed to inform consumers about less expensive price options because of the clauses in their contracts with Pharmacy Benefit Managers.
These clauses specifically prevent pharmacists from discussing cheaper alternatives, including therapeutically similar drugs with consumers. With the proposed state legislation state officials are hopeful this will increase drug price transparency and allow pharmacists to inform consumers about drug prices with and without insurance. Now when the cash price for a prescription is less than what you would pay using your insurance plan, pharmacists will no longer have to withhold that information.
CMS Efforts to Increase Price Transparency
The Dashboard is a vital resource for the CMS administration’s effort to improve price transparency and help address the issue if rising prices. According to the recent Dashboard updates for 2017 coupled with previous years, the Dashboards have helped indicate a trend on the basis of rising prescription drug prices. In accordance to the data collected in the Dashboards between 2013-2017 prescription drug expenditure has grown fairly rapidly with an average annual rate of 10.6% in Medicare Part D, 10.0% in Part B, and 14.8% in Medicaid. The new dashboard update for 2017 found the total gross spending on prescription drugs was $154.9 billion in Medicare Part D, $30.4 billion in Part B, and $67.6 billion in Medicaid. The Dashboard is a vital resource for consumers and physicians alike.
For specific questions regarding the Dashboards, or for recommendations on how your organization can leverage the information to encourage consumerism, reach out to your OneDigital Consultant.