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August 3, 2017

Medicare Part D premiums could see first drop in five years, CMS says

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    CMS on Tuesday announced that it expects monthly premiums for Medicare Part D plans to drop in 2018 for the first time in five years.

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    The agency predicted that the average monthly premium will be $33.50 next year, down about 3 percent from $34.70 this year.

    CMS said the projection, which was calculated by the agency's Office of the Actuary, was "based on bids submitted by drug plans for basic drug coverage for the 2018 benefit year." CMS added that it expects to release actual premiums and costs for 2018 Medicare plans in mid-September.


    HHS Secretary Tom Price called the projected decline "encouraging news for the nearly 43 million seniors who are enrolled in" Part D.

    The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America touted the projections as "further evidence that Part D continues to provide beneficiaries with access to affordable prescription drug coverage," adding, "Year after year, the monthly premiums have been and continue to be regularly stable" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/2; Young, CQ HealthBeat, 8/2 [subscription required]; CMS release, 8/2; King, Washington Examiner, 8/2; Diamond, "Pulse," Politico, 8/3).

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    CMS' latest proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule includes a $900 million cut for drugs purchased under the 340B program—reducing a significant source of funding for safety-net providers.

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