Medicare’s opioid crisis looms over the state of Arizona
President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order on Friday that expands the federal government’s role in drug policy.
The move, which is a major change in how Medicare pays for drugs, will allow for a wide range of new options for doctors, including testing and prescription treatment, as well as the possibility of reimbursing doctors if they can demonstrate they’ve used up their supply of drugs.
The Trump administration also plans to make it easier for doctors to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
The order, a significant expansion of the federal role in health care, marks a major shift in the national debate over how to manage the rising number of Americans dying from prescription drug overdoses.
It is expected to be one of the biggest legislative wins for Trump’s presidency.
“The opioid crisis is not just an opioid problem.
It’s a public health crisis, too,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who led the push for the order.
“Medicare is the first health insurance plan to take this leadership role in making sure our drug system is ready to handle this crisis.
It will help save lives.”
The opioid epidemic has become a major political liability for the Trump administration, with a Republican Senate majority in control of the Senate and a GOP House of Representatives controlled by Democrats.
In recent weeks, the president has been trying to shift blame for the crisis onto the opioid epidemic, arguing that the U.S. is on a drug addiction binge, with more than 14,000 Americans dying of opioid overdoses this year.
The number of opioid deaths in 2017, though, has been well below what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected.
Under the Trump order, the Department of Health and Human Services will have full access to information on prescription drug prices, the number of prescriptions filled for opioids, and how many people have died.
Medicare would also be given a new set of incentives to negotiate prescription drug pricing, as it did with Medicaid under former President Barack Obama.
Medicare would be given more money to buy prescription drugs from generic companies that compete with drugmakers like Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
The White House said that the executive order would also allow states to “provide enhanced benefits and access to prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries,” including access to Medicare Advantage plans, and would expand Medicaid to cover all eligible Americans with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line.
The president also said that Medicare and Medicaid will no longer pay for emergency room visits related to opioid overdoses, which are expected to rise to 2 million annually by 2026.
“Our goal is to ensure that we’re providing the best care possible for our nation’s seniors, including treating opioid overdose victims with dignity, compassion and dignity of mind,” Trump said.
Trump’s order also expands the Medicaid expansion that was recently enacted under former Republican President Donald Trumps predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
That expansion, which has been used by some states to help combat the opioid crisis, has faced criticism from lawmakers.
Democrats say the order is a continuation of Trump’s long-running attack on Medicaid.
The bipartisan deal, which was crafted by Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, is expected be signed into law by Trump next week.