American College of Rheumatology Significantly Concerned with MedPAC’s Latest Recommendations to Cut Part B Drug Reimbursement
June 15, 2023 | Advocacy
Group says this policy will jeopardize provider practices and patients' health by reducing access to life-changing provider-administered therapies
WASHINGTON, DC – The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) today expressed disappointment that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has recommended yet another cut to physician reimbursement for infusing life-altering treatments as part of its June 2023 Report to the Congress: Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System.
In a letter to MedPAC, ACR took issue with the organization’s recommendation to Congress to keep a six percent add-on payment for the lowest-cost drugs, reduce the add-on payment for mid-to-high-level drugs, and add a payment cap for the costliest drugs.
“While we support efforts to rein in the cost of prescription drugs, we firmly believe that this policy would jeopardize provider practices and patients’ health by reducing access to life-changing provider-administered therapies,” said Douglas White, MD, PhD, president of the ACR. “We urge Congress to address the high cost of drugs at the root cause, like the opaque pharmacy benefit manager business practices, and not at the expense of providers.”
In its recommendation, MedPAC asserted that providers prescribe and administer the highest-price medications in order to receive higher reimbursement. ACR firmly rejects this premise. Administering Medicare Part B drugs in provider offices requires rheumatologists to buy the drug in bulk, maintain full-time staff to administer the treatment, and only bill Medicare after it has been given to the patient.
The six percent of the average sales price (ASP) add-on does not incentivize high-cost treatments, but rather offsets the costs of acquiring, storing, and administering treatments. As written, MedPAC’s recommendation would force providers to cut back on offering cutting-edge therapies or offer these medications at a loss, severely limiting patients’ access to medication and threatening practice viability.
“As providers, it is our job to prescribe the most appropriate treatment for our patients. The add-on payments are not considered in our clinical decision-making. We are concerned that policymakers are concentrating on these add-on payments rather than focusing on policies that address the true cause of drug prices,” said Christina Downey, MD, chair of ACR’s Government Affairs Committee. “The ACR will always express concern when provider payments to administer drugs are eschewed by widely supported policies. Hopefully, the bipartisan movement to reform the PBMs industry will yield meaningful change, and patients will see the benefits.”
About the American College of Rheumatology
Founded in 1934, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is a not-for-profit, professional association committed to advancing the specialty of rheumatology that serves nearly 8,500 physicians, health professionals, and scientists worldwide. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatology professionals are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.