By BOBBY THOMAS and BOBB JENNERMANAAssociated Press|WASHINGTON (AP) — The most popular pharmacy benefit in America may be paying for prescriptions but it’s not the one most people expect.
The drug benefit that covers most prescriptions has become a target for critics, especially those in rural areas who want to avoid paying for out-of-pocket costs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been criticized for not paying enough for prescriptions in the past and for the way it allocates money among the different programs.
The pharmaceutical industry argues that most of the savings come from patients paying for the drugs directly, rather than through out-the-door drug purchases.
The industry says most of that money is going to pharmacies that get reimbursed for those drug purchases, rather to the providers of those prescriptions.
But critics say the pharmacy benefit is being used to subsidize out-door purchases of drugs and that patients who use the benefit for drugs that aren’t covered should be paid the full cost.
The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would give the drug benefit a $10.5 billion boost in its current budget, with $4.5 million to be given to help low-income people pay for drugs in their own homes.
The bill would give health insurers a $5 billion tax break for the cost of prescriptions, while giving state and local governments a $1 billion subsidy for the costs of prescription drugs.
The government would provide $300 million in Medicaid savings, according to the bill.
The benefit is one of the most popular and controversial in the country, with more than 100 million Americans using it.
It’s part of the Medicare prescription benefit.
In the past year, the number of prescriptions filled at the federal level has fallen by nearly 20% and by a similar amount at state and municipal levels.
The Drug Benefit Administration said in its latest annual report that about one-third of the $50 billion that it received in spending from Congress was allocated to cover prescription drug costs.
That is the same amount that it spent on pharmacy benefits in 2016.
The cost of prescription medications has been rising.
The price of generic drugs, which are more expensive, has gone up faster than generic drugs.