AP Exclusive: Medicare Safeguard Overwhelmed by Pricey Drugs

Sunday, July 24, 2016



WASHINGTON (AP) — New government numbers show that a financial safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for pharmaceuticals to get billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense.

The cost of Medicare's "catastrophic" prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015.


That's according to the program's Office of the Actuary, which provided the figures to The Associated Press.

Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare's Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection — Harvoni and Sovaldi— accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic costs in 2015.

Taxpayers cover 80 percent of catastrophic costs. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent.

The pharmaceutical industry is pushing back and saying the figures don't count rebates, which aren't publicly disclosed.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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