Trump brings ‘historic negotiation’ to Medicare

President Trump is keeping his promise to bring negotiations and discounts to medications paid for by Medicare.

Months after President Trump announced the blueprint, he has brought “historic negotiation” and has taken new actions to lower costs of medications paid for by Medicare, Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday.

“We are for the first time ever – President Trump is unleashing these Medicare plans – to negotiate aggressively to see [where] there’s competition, to pit drug companies against drug companies, to get better discounts and to let the patients choose which plans are meeting their needs in terms of the tradeoff between access and premiums,” Azar said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will allow Medicare Advantage plans, which provide benefits to one-third of Medicare beneficiaries, according to Azar, to negotiate prices under Medicare Part B, which covers drugs typically administered by a physician.

The new policy would allow Medicare Advantage plans to utilize step therapy, which would start patients on less expensive drugs before moving up to more expensive treatments. Azar said the measure would create 15% to 20% discounts and require more than half of the savings to be passed on to senior citizens.

The plan is expected to be fully implemented by 2020, he said. Until now, the requirement could not be made on drugs covered by Part B.

“We spend about $12 billion dollars on Part B drugs in Medicare Advantage right now,” Azar said. “So if you bring that 15% to 20% rebate to or discounting into that space – that’s significant savings for the program and for seniors.”