July 12, 2018 / 9:40 PM / 4 months ago

CMS proposes change in the drug payment amount under Medicare Part B

FILE PHOTO: A customer waits at the counter of a CVS Pharmacy store in Pasadena, U.S., May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

(Reuters) - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday proposed a change in the payment amount for new drugs under its Part B program, amid the Trump administration’s attempts to tackle escalating prices of drugs.

Medicare Part B covers medicines patients receive in a doctor’s office, such as infusions, CMS said.

The move from the agency comes in the same week U.S. President Donald Trump called Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read to say the company’s July 1 price hikes had complicated the administration’s drug pricing plans, prompting the company to defer its planned increases.

Trump rolled out a blueprint in May on how his administration planned to lower drug prices. Later that month, Trump said that some drug companies would announce “voluntary, massive” price decreases in two weeks, though none have materialized yet.

The Part B program changes, which would be effective Jan. 1, 2019, would help reduce the amount that seniors would have to pay out-of-pocket, especially for treatments with high launch prices, the agency said.

The agency also proposed it would pay clinicians for virtual check-ins and expanding Medicare-covered telehealth services to include prolonged preventive services.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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