Soaring drug costs at heart of military funding scuffle
- Lawmakers are engaged in a contentious debate over how to address the soaring cost of branded and compounded drugs on the military healthcare system TRICARE, Bloomberg reports.
- The Obama administration and allied lawmakers from both parties in the Senate are pushing a plan to increase military retirees' and their families' pharmacy co-pays for medications. That plan is meeting quite a bit of resistance in the House of Representatives.
- Express Scripts runs a national mail-order prescription drug service for military families and retirees. TRICARE beneficiaries generally don't have to pay co-pays unless they are using non-military retail pharmacies or the Scripts mail-order service.
Passing healthcare costs onto veterans and military families isn't easy politics. So the fact that lawmakers, including influential and well-known veterans such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), are pushing for the increased co-pays underscores just how much of a hole drug spending is creating for military health programs.
According to Bloomberg, branded and specialty compounded medications are the main sources of increased spending. In fact, compounded med costs have risen to a staggering $1.7 billion in just the first six months of 2015 versus just $23 million over a similar period in 2010.
Two of the medications undoubtedly contributing to the explosion in spending? Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni, which will reportedly cost the VA nearly $700 million in hepatitis C treatment spending in 2016.