In an announcement that’s bound to be bittersweet for folks who pay taxes in the U.S. and make their livings in the pharmaceutical industry, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate that the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) “will save taxpayers and States an estimated $17.7 billion over five years on prescription drugs bought through Medicaid.” The statement, by CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, came as CMS unveiled proposed rules intended to “increase transparency in drug pricing and ensure taxpayers and States are not overpaying for prescription drugs.”

CMS says that the proposed regs will cut costs by:

  • Aligning reimbursement rates to better reflect the actual price the pharmacy pays for the drug;
  • Increasing rebates paid by drug manufacturers who participate in Medicaid, and;
  • Providing rebates for drugs dispensed to individuals enrolled in a Medicaid managed care organization.

The rule-making notice is available online at http://tinyurl.com/86gampl. Stakeholders will have until April 2 to submit comments, and CMS aims to issue the final rule in 2013.

PUBLIC OPINION DIVIDED

As we gear up for the 2012 presidential election— anticipating that healthcare reform will be a major political football—American public opinion on the Affordable Care Act remains fragmented, as a new Harris Interactive/ HealthDay poll indicates.

Overall, 36 percent of U.S. adults would like to see the law repealed, and 21 percent would like it left intact. Another 25 percent would like to see some elements of the law modified. The law’s most controversial provision—the “individual mandate” requiring all adults to have health insurance—“remains widely unpopular, with only 19 percent of those polled supporting it, regardless of political party affiliation,” according to the poll.

Harris notes, however, that “support for certain components of the law seems to be slowly increasing with time.” These include:

  • 71% of respondents support prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to those already sick (up from 64% in the last poll, in November 2010).
  • 57% favor allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26 (up from 55 % in 2010).
  • 59% favor insurance exchanges in which consumers can shop for insurance (up from 51%).
  • 70% support giving small business tax credits to help them pay for employees’ insurance (up from 60%).
  • 53% favor requiring all employers with 50 or more employees to offer employee insurance or pay a penalty (up from 48%).
  • 53% favor mandatory comparative effectiveness research on various treatment (up from 44%).
  • 38% want to create a new Independent Payment Advisory Board to limit the growth of Medicare spending (up from 32%).

The Harris Interactive/HealthDay Poll asked 2,415 U.S. adults over age 18, “It has been nearly two years since the healthcare reform legislation was signed into law by President Barack Obama, much of which has not yet been implemented. Do you think the law should…”

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