Thursday, December 30, 2021

DIR fees from PBMs increased by 91,500% in just 9 years [Weekly Roundup]

 News and notes from around the interweb:

  • DIR charges from PBM increased by 91,500% in just 9 years. The probe by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will center on huge increases in direct and indirect remuneration fees that PBMs charge pharmacies on Medicare prescriptions. These DIR fees were implemented as a way to incentivize U.S. pharmacies collecting millions of Medicare dollars to do more than simply push pills. But the assessment — charged well after a prescription drug sale is supposedly complete — evolved into a system that today offers pharmacies only penalties through higher and higher fees, even if every PBM performance standard is achieved. The fees now total $11.2 billion a year, up from $200 million in 2013.
  • Join the Movement!
    Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix. Several people who work in the industry, who asked not to be named due to the confidential nature of coalitions, said most employers, regardless of how big they are, have no idea what they're giving up when they enter coalitions. Once employers are locked into the coalition, they can't get a full second opinion on the drug prices they pay, experts said.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act Introduces Broker Compensation TransparencyEffective December 27, 2021, brokers and consultants of ERISA covered group health plans, regardless of size, will be required to execute a written contract with a responsible plan fiduciary which includes a description of the services to be provided, a description of all direct compensation the broker expects to receive, and a description of all expected indirect compensation including vendor incentive payments. 
  • ERISA Preemption of State Laws Requiring Employers to Report or Disclose Benefit Plan Information to EmployeesOne reaction to the Rutledge decision was a sense that the scope of ERISA preemption was perhaps narrower than once thought and a state’s ability to indirectly regulate ERISA plans perhaps broader than once thought. This article will address whether that is an accurate assumption by applying the Court’s holdings in Rutledge and two if its other key ERISA preemption cases to determine whether the recently enacted Illinois Consumer Coverage Disclosure Act (Public Act 102-0630) may be preempted.
The Certified Pharmacy Benefits Specialist (CPBS) educational offering includes knowledge that is critical to effective management of the pharmacy and medical drug benefit. If you want to learn more, click here.

Reference Pricing: "Gross" Invoice Cost vs. AWP for Popular Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs (Volume 394)

This document is updated weekly, but why is it important? Healthcare marketers are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to augment lower reimbursements provided under PPACA. Prescription drugs, particularly specialty, are key drivers in the growth strategies of PBMs, TPAs, and MCOs pursuant to health care reform.

How to Determine if Your Company [or Client] is Overpaying

Step #1:  Obtain a price list for generic prescription drugs from your broker, TPA, ASO or PBM every month.

Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement. It's impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is more than a 5% price differential for brand drugs or 25% (paid versus actual cost) for generic drugs we consider this a potential problem thus further investigation is warranted.

Multiple price differential discoveries mean that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

-- Tip --

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Untold Truth: How Pharmacy Benefit Managers Make Money [Free Webinar]

How many businesses do you know want to cut their revenues in half? That's why traditional pharmacy benefit managers don't offer a fiduciary standard and instead opt for hidden cash flow opportunities such as rebate masking. Want to learn more?


Here is what some participants have said about the webinar.

"Thank you Tyrone. Nice job, good information." David Stoots, AVP

"Thank you! Awesome presentation." Mallory Nelson, PharmD

"Thank you Tyrone for this informative meeting." David Wachtel, VP

"...Great presentation! I had our two partners on the presentation as well. Very informative." Nolan Waterfall, Agent/Benefits Specialist

A snapshot of what you will learn during this 30 minute webinar:

  • Hidden cash flows in the PBM Industry
  • Basic to intermediate level PBM terminologies
  • Specialty pharmacy cost-containment strategies
  • Examples of drugs that you might be covering that are costing you
  • The #1 metric to measure when evaluating PBM proposals


Sincerely,
TransparentRx
Tyrone D. Squires, MBA  
10845 Griffith Peak Drive, Suite 200  
Las Vegas, NV 89135 
Office: (866) 499-1940
Mobile: (702) 803-4154


P.S.  Yes, it's recorded. I know you're busy ... so register now and we'll send you the link to the session recording as soon as it's ready.   

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Reference Pricing: "Gross" Invoice Cost vs. AWP for Popular Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs (Volume 393)

This document is updated weekly, but why is it important? Healthcare marketers are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to augment lower reimbursements provided under PPACA. Prescription drugs, particularly specialty, are key drivers in the growth strategies of PBMs, TPAs, and MCOs pursuant to health care reform.

How to Determine if Your Company [or Client] is Overpaying

Step #1:  Obtain a price list for generic prescription drugs from your broker, TPA, ASO or PBM every month.

Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement. It's impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is more than a 5% price differential for brand drugs or 25% (paid versus actual cost) for generic drugs we consider this a potential problem thus further investigation is warranted.

Multiple price differential discoveries mean that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

-- Tip --

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) Introduces Broker Compensation Transparency [Weekly Roundup]

 News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Survey on Outcomes-Based Contracts Shows Mixed Results for Novel Therapies. Avalere Health's fifth annual survey of outcomes-based contracts (OBC) for novel therapies showed varied results in overall participation and across specific therapies. OBCs center on "high-cost novel treatments and other types of products" and "typically include an agreement between health plans and drug or device manufacturers that ties product reimbursement to specific clinical, quality, or utilization outcomes." John Neal, an Avalere managing director notes: "These products come with big price tags. Payers want to make sure the outcomes are what was indicated in clinical trials."
  • Understanding the Evolving Business Models and Revenue of Pharmacy Benefit Managers. Over time, PBMs have found ways to take advantage of a lack of transparency and oversight to increase their profit, said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League. This report showcases not only the many ways they do this but also just how much money they’re making from these tactics. We must find policy solutions to bring that money — those savings — back to consumers as intended.
  • Join the Movement!
    Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix. Several people who work in the industry, who asked not to be named due to the confidential nature of coalitions, said most employers, regardless of how big they are, have no idea what they're giving up when they enter coalitions. Once employers are locked into the coalition, they can't get a full second opinion on the drug prices they pay, experts said.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act Introduces Broker Compensation TransparencyEffective December 27, 2021, brokers and consultants of ERISA covered group health plans, regardless of size, will be required to execute a written contract with a responsible plan fiduciary which includes a description of the services to be provided, a description of all direct compensation the broker expects to receive, and a description of all expected indirect compensation including vendor incentive payments. 
  • 340B Program, PAPs Help Ensure SP Rx SuccessBut those 340B savings don’t magically appear, Dr. Mitchell stressed. His specialty pharmacy has clinical pharmacists embedded in clinics who make sure that orders for specialty medications sent to the internal specialty pharmacy are eligible for 340B savings. They also are responsible for ensuring that orders patients choose to have filled at external pharmacies—or that payors mandate be sent to a specialty pharmacy—still remain in the health system’s contract pharmacy network.
The Certified Pharmacy Benefits Specialist (CPBS) educational offering includes knowledge that is critical to effective management of the pharmacy and medical drug benefit. If you want to learn more, click here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Tip of the Week: Think Twice Before Joining a PBM Drug Pricing Coalition (rerun)

Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal. 

How it works: Employers hire pharmacy benefit managers to handle the drug coverage in their workers' health insurance plans. PBMs negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and decide which drugs get preferential treatment.

Big consulting firms work with PBMs to organize drug pricing coalitions, pulling Fortune 500 companies and other large employers into purchasing agreements that, in theory, maximize negotiating power. But it can be difficult for employers to determine the financial upside of these arrangements. So what are employers not seeing within coalitions? The data on prices, and understanding whether those prices are a good deal.

Tyrone's Commentary:

I'm not opposed to coalitions per se. I am, however, opposed to information asymmetry in health care. Information Asymmetry or "Information Failure" is a term that refers to when one party in a business transaction is in possession of more information or knowledge than the other (see figure 1). In certain transactions, sellers might take advantage of buyers because information asymmetry exists whereby the seller has more knowledge of the good or service being sold than the buyer. The best proponent of transparency is informed and sophisticated purchasers of PBM services. If a coalition is engaging in information asymmetry, employers in that coalition are leaving money on the table.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Understanding the Evolving Business Models and Revenue of Pharmacy Benefit Managers [Weekly Roundup]

 News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Understanding the Evolving Business Models and Revenue of Pharmacy Benefit Managers. Over time, PBMs have found ways to take advantage of a lack of transparency and oversight to increase their profit, said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League. This report showcases not only the many ways they do this but also just how much money they’re making from these tactics. We must find policy solutions to bring that money — those savings — back to consumers as intended.
  • Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix. Several people who work in the industry, who asked not to be named due to the confidential nature of coalitions, said most employers, regardless of how big they are, have no idea what they're giving up when they enter coalitions. Once employers are locked into the coalition, they can't get a full second opinion on the drug prices they pay, experts said.
Join the Movement!
  • Pharma Grapples With Best Price Accumulator. A new CMS policy, issued in December 2020 with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2023, requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to “ensure” the benefit of copay assistance programs goes only to patients to maintain the exclusion from best price reporting. If a coupon’s full value doesn’t accrue to the patient, the pharmaceutical manufacturer must count it as a discount to the drug’s Medicaid price.
  • 13 million Americans skip prescription drugs due to costThe report, based on a national survey of U.S. households, outlined the range of obstacles that Americans face in affording needed medications. According to the report, more than 2.3 million elderly Medicare beneficiaries and 3.8 million privately insured working-age adults reported skipping needed treatments because of costs in both 2018 and 2019. 
  • 340B Program, PAPs Help Ensure SP Rx SuccessBut those 340B savings don’t magically appear, Dr. Mitchell stressed. His specialty pharmacy has clinical pharmacists embedded in clinics who make sure that orders for specialty medications sent to the internal specialty pharmacy are eligible for 340B savings. They also are responsible for ensuring that orders patients choose to have filled at external pharmacies—or that payors mandate be sent to a specialty pharmacy—still remain in the health system’s contract pharmacy network.
The Certified Pharmacy Benefits Specialist (CPBS) educational offering includes knowledge that is critical to effective management of the pharmacy and medical drug benefit. If you want to learn more, click here.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Reference Pricing: "Gross" Invoice Cost vs. AWP for Popular Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs (Volume 392)

This document is updated weekly, but why is it important? Healthcare marketers are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to augment lower reimbursements provided under PPACA. Prescription drugs, particularly specialty, are key drivers in the growth strategies of PBMs, TPAs, and MCOs pursuant to health care reform.

How to Determine if Your Company [or Client] is Overpaying

Step #1:  Obtain a price list for generic prescription drugs from your broker, TPA, ASO or PBM every month.

Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement. It's impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is more than a 5% price differential for brand drugs or 25% (paid versus actual cost) for generic drugs we consider this a potential problem thus further investigation is warranted.

Multiple price differential discoveries mean that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

-- Tip --

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Tip of the Week: Think Twice Before Joining a PBM Drug Pricing Coalition

Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal. 
Figure 1: Explanation for coalitions withholding data

How it works: Employers hire pharmacy benefit managers to handle the drug coverage in their workers' health insurance plans. PBMs negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and decide which drugs get preferential treatment.

Big consulting firms work with PBMs to organize drug pricing coalitions, pulling Fortune 500 companies and other large employers into purchasing agreements that, in theory, maximize negotiating power. But it can be difficult for employers to determine the financial upside of these arrangements. So what are employers not seeing within coalitions? The data on prices, and understanding whether those prices are a good deal.

Tyrone's Commentary:

I'm not opposed to coalitions per se. I am, however, opposed to information asymmetry in health care. Information Asymmetry or "Information Failure" is a term that refers to when one party in a business transaction is in possession of more information or knowledge than the other (see figure 1). In certain transactions, sellers might take advantage of buyers because information asymmetry exists whereby the seller has more knowledge of the good or service being sold than the buyer. The best proponent of transparency is informed and sophisticated purchasers of PBM services. If a coalition is engaging in information asymmetry, employers in that coalition are leaving money on the table.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Pharmacy Benefit Managers are Outwitting Attempts at Accountability, Tougher Rules [Weekly Roundup]

 News and notes from around the interweb:

  • The case for "unbundling" self-funded health benefit programs. They [employers] can unbundle their plan and choose a fully transparent PBM that makes sure all of the rebate dollars get back to the plan within certain time frames and their contractual obligations are potentially different than they might have been within the bundled plan. That unbundling could save the employer a significant amount of money without negatively affecting the services provided to plan participants.
  • Key Drugs in Specialty Pharmacy Slated to Launch in 2022. Ray Tancredi, RPh, MBA, divisional VP of specialty pharmacy development and brand Rx/vaccine purchasing at Walgreens, addresses key drugs in development that are slated to launch in 2022, key drugs in development that are slated to launch in the future of note, and some of the promising and unique medications to keep an eye on that are expected to be approved in the specialty pharmacy space.
Join the Movement!
  • Pharma Grapples With Best Price Accumulator. A new CMS policy, issued in December 2020 with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2023, requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to “ensure” the benefit of copay assistance programs goes only to patients to maintain the exclusion from best price reporting. If a coupon’s full value doesn’t accrue to the patient, the pharmaceutical manufacturer must count it as a discount to the drug’s Medicaid price.
  • Pharmacy and PBM Leader Deloitte Consulting: Specialty Drugs Rely on Personalization for Optimal OutcomesThe high cost of specialty drugs makes it important to use companion diagnostics and other tests to make sure the drug is going to the right patient, said George Van Antwerp, MBA, managing director, Deloitte Consulting. When we look at the cost of specialty drugs, and especially some of the cell and gene therapy drugs, which are really all about precision medicine, those costs mean they have to work. They have to be focused on and personalized to the individual.
The Certified Pharmacy Benefits Specialist (CPBS) educational offering includes knowledge that is critical to effective management of the pharmacy and medical drug benefit. If you want to learn more, click here.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Reference Pricing: "Gross" Invoice Cost vs. AWP for Popular Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs (Volume 391)

This document is updated weekly, but why is it important? Healthcare marketers are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to augment lower reimbursements provided under PPACA. Prescription drugs, particularly specialty, are key drivers in the growth strategies of PBMs, TPAs, and MCOs pursuant to health care reform.

How to Determine if Your Company [or Client] is Overpaying

Step #1:  Obtain a price list for generic prescription drugs from your broker, TPA, ASO or PBM every month.

Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement. It's impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is more than a 5% price differential for brand drugs or 25% (paid versus actual cost) for generic drugs we consider this a potential problem thus further investigation is warranted.

Multiple price differential discoveries mean that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

-- Tip --

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.