The Fight Continues continued...
"If the prices of drugs are high and inappropriately high, that means that benefits are worse than they could be," Pollack says.
Industry groups and Medicare officials did not dispute the findings. They suggested that the wider access to drugs available under Medicare make it more difficult to control costs than under the more restricted drug list of the VA.
"Medicare beneficiaries would never accept a drug benefit with sharply reduced drug choices and very limited access to pharmacies," says Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a group representing companies set to manage Medicare drug benefits.
Gary Karr, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says that insurers and management companies have been successful in negotiating cheaper drug prices.
"It's cheaper than it was expected to be and the coverage is better than it was expected to be," he says.