CMS to not disclose drug benefit discount information

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will not publicly disclose information on drug discounts obtained by pharmacy benefit managers for Medicare prescription drug plans, CMS Administrator Leslie Norwalk said.

Doing so would reduce the ability of pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate discounts in the future, said Norwalk in a recent letter to lawmakers. She was responding to congressional attempts to access data to determine whether discounts negotiated by benefit managers with drug makers were passed on to beneficiaries.

Several industry experts and officials testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in February that price transparency would help to curb fraud and abuse in the program. One expert testified that because plans do not have to disclose rebates, they might not pass the savings onto beneficiaries. Medicare may be paying about 20% more for drugs for dual eligibles than Medicaid would be paying if those beneficiaries were still on state rolls, another said. Many nursing home residents are dual eligibles, or those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.