New CMS Rules to Increase Transparency and Lower Drug Costs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a final rule intended to increase transparency and lower drug prices. This announcement has been in the works since CMS first posted their proposal in November 2018. Now that the final ruling has arrived, it’s important for health plans to understand what’s changed and how the rule may affect their business. Tier 1 is available to consult with health plans about these important updates. In the meantime, here’s a brief look at what this final rule means for health plans and the health care industry more generally.

What Does the Final Rule Mean for Your Health Plan?

If you’ve been following along with this blog, this topic will already be familiar to you—we’ve been keeping you posted about its various updates since the proposal was first announced. Published on May 23, the CMS’s final rule is formally entitled, “Modernizing Part D and Medicare Advantage to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Expenses.” As the title suggests, the amendments within the final rule pertain to both Part C (Medicare Advantage program) and Part D (Prescription Drug Benefit program) regulations. The amendments aim to help health plans negotiate for lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs for enrollees of Part C and Part D programs. The CMS ruling achieves this aim by improving regulatory frameworks and facilitating the development of products that meet patient needs while also reducing their fees. Health plans only want the best for their members—and reducing patients’ out of pocket costs help minimize the expenditures of Part C and Part D programs.

What Does the Final Rule Say that Your Health Plan Needs to Know?

On the same day they published their final rule, CMS posted a helpful fact-sheet outlining significant changes that your health plan needs to consider moving forward. Key takeaways include:

  • Part D policy relating to six classes of drugs has now been codified.
  • Part D plans are now required to adopt one or more electronic Real Time Benefit Tools that have the capability to inform prescribers when lower-cost therapies are available under their drug benefit.
  • Policy is now being finalized that would allow Medicare Advantage plans to implement step therapy for Part B drugs as a recognized utilization management tool.
  • CMS will now require Part D plans to inform members of drug price increases and lower-cost therapeutic alternatives in their Explanation of Benefits.
  • A new prohibition against gag clauses in pharmacy contracts now restricts Part D sponsors from prohibiting or penalizing a pharmacy from disclosing a lower cash price to an enrollee.

About Tier 1 

Tier 1 Pharmacy Consulting is a Denver, Colorado-based pharmacy benefit consulting firm offering customized services to healthcare plans that offer prescription drug benefits. Whether your health plan is big or small, Tier 1 offers strategic, cost-saving solutions that boost the plan’s overall value and help its members by providing high quality care.

Tier 1’s founder is a clinical pharmacist with more than a decade of experience in pharmacy benefit management. We are passionate about collaborating and developing effective strategies to improve health plan outcomes.

Tier 1 offers health plans a new perspective on how to manage their pharmacy benefit. Our team is made up of experts who strive to make effective plans even stronger and fill in any gaps due to a lack of time or resources.

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