Sebelius, Biden confirm Medicare Part D drug discounts next year amid skepticism of price hikes

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Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reassured seniors Thursday that there will be a 50% discount for those who fall into the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” beginning next year.

The 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs is the second phase of the Obama administration's plan to phase out the Medicare Part D coverage gap over the next decade. As part of the healthcare reform law, the government struck a deal with pharmaceutical manufacturers to lower the price of the drugs effective in 2011.

“Now, with these new agreements, people who rely on Medicare will see even more savings off their drug costs next year, and savings will continue even after the coverage gap is closed in 2020,” Sebelius said during the call with seniors.

The administration's announcement comes shortly after an advocacy group warned there could be prescription drug price hikes. In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Medicare Rights Center expressed “legitimate concern” that drug makers would begin steeply raising the price of drugs over the coming months to offset the 50% discount, The Washington Post reported.