Issue: Drug Prices

A guide to following the health debate in the 2020 elections

Voters have frequently complained that the debate has been confusing and hard to follow. Most of the attention so far has been focused on whether the U.S. should transition to a “Medicare for All” program that would guarantee coverage to all US residents — and result in higher taxes for most people. But there is far more to the health debate than that.

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Secretive ‘Rebate Trap’ Keeps Generic Drugs Out of Reach

In a practice that policy experts say smothers competition and keeps prices high, drug companies routinely make hidden pacts with middlemen that effectively block patients from getting cheaper generic medicines. Such agreements “make it difficult for generics to compete or know what they’re competing against,” said Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

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Rising Drug Prices Strain Hospital Budgets

Rising costs of prescription drugs have strained hospital budgets and operations, forcing health systems to cut costs by reducing staff, according to a new study. Hospital drug spending increased by 18.5 percent between 2015 and 2017, a rate far exceeding medical inflation for the period. US community hospitals spent an average of $555.40 on prescription drugs for each admitted patient in 2017.

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