August 7, 2018 / 9:17 PM / a year ago

U.S. to boost drug price negotiation in Medicare Advantage health plans

Aug 7 (Reuters) - The Trump administration said on Tuesday it would give Medicare Advantage health plans for the elderly new tools to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

Medicare Advantage plans are administered by private health insurers, such as Aetna Inc and Humana Inc, and cover medical benefits for some 20 million seniors.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Medicare Advantage plans will be allowed to require that patients first try certain lower-cost drugs before moving onto a more expensive alternative, regardless of whether they receive the medicine in a doctor's office or a pharmacy. Until now, such requirements could not be made on drugs covered by Medicare Part B, which are administered in a hospital or doctor's office.

The changes can take effect as early as 2019. (Reporting by Michele Gershberg Editing by James Dalgleish)

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