How Do The New Medicare Drug Plans For 2011 Compare?
The drug manufacturers, like other medical businesses, were poised to reap tens of millions of new customers in an expanded health-care system. The logical tradeoff was for the pharmaceutical industry to help offset the cost by accepting smaller federal reimbursements or paying a new fee to the government. What the drug manufacturers gave up on one side of the ledger, would be more than made up by these newly insured patients, so the theory goes.
The government regulators wanted to squeeze $100 billion in savings out of the drug sector over the next 10 years, an eye-popping figure that temporarily silenced the opposition to the new Medicare drug plans. It was more than triple what the pharmaceutical companies were considering.
The companies were ready to contribute, but they did not want the government simply to trim federal drug spending. They were offering big discounts on prescription medicines purchased through the Medicare Drug Plans. The savings would accrue to senior citizens, not the government, and the pharmaceutical companies wanted credit for reducing costs for Medicare drug plans.
The New Medicare
Secret discussions between the industry and the government representatives had been underway throughout the spring. Each side had its reasons for being at the table–and a list of demands. The government needed the money, but more important, the officials wanted a few industry players to side with the government in what was certain to be a grueling and expensive battle. The pharmaceutical industry, meanwhile, aimed to burnish its image, avoid onerous new regulations and have some degree of financial certainty.
Negotiations Over Drug Plans
Slowly, the negotiators in the pharmaceutical talks closed in on a number: $80 billion over a decade. Some administration aides had expected a larger figure, but some thought it would be better to lock in the smaller amount without a fight than risk a protracted brawl with no guarantee of money or a specific price in the new Medicare drug plans.
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