WASHINGTON (AP) — New government numbers show that a financial safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for pharmaceuticals to get billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense.
The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015.
That’s according to the program’s Office of the Actuary, which provided the figures to The Associated Press.
Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection — Harvoni and Sovaldi— accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic costs in 2015.
Taxpayers cover 80 percent of catastrophic costs. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent.
The pharmaceutical industry is pushing back and saying the figures don’t count rebates, which aren’t publicly disclosed.