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DATE 2023-12-01

HANGOUT

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Key: Value:

Key: Value:

MESSAGE
DATE 2023-12-06
FROM Ruben Safir
SUBJECT Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] the NEW way that CVS/Carmart will steal money
CVS Plans to Overhaul How Much Drugs Cost
Anna Wilde Mathews
6–7 minutes

, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, will move away from the complex
formulas used to set the prices of the prescription drugs it sells,
shifting to a simpler model that could upend how American pharmacies are
paid.

Under the plan, CVS’s roughly 9,500 retail pharmacies will get
reimbursed by pharmacy-benefit managers and other payers based on the
amount that CVS paid for the drugs, in addition to a limited markup and
a flat fee to cover the services involved in handling and dispensing the
prescriptions. Today, pharmacies are generally paid using complex
measures that aren’t directly based on what they spent to purchase
specific drugs.

A similar payment model, sometimes known as “cost plus,” has been
promoted by entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s eponymous pharmacy company, among
others, which have said it brings greater clarity and accountability to
drug pricing.

CVS’s move, earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, is to be phased
in starting in the first half of 2024. It will take the approach to a
far greater scale, embedding it in a company that stands at the core of
the American drug-supply chain.

“It’s a fundamental change in how pharmacy services are priced,” said
Adam Fein, chief executive of the Drug Channels Institute, which
provides research on the drug-supply chain. It is also, he said, “a
legitimate step toward transparency.”

For consumers, employers and health insurers paying for prescriptions,
the change will have mixed effects. Some drugs may cost less, while
others might rise in price, CVS executives said. More should show
declines than increases, they said.

CVS is making the move as it seeks to stabilize its retail pharmacy
business, which has long struggled with stagnating margins on its core
function of dispensing prescriptions.

The company is also responding to criticism from lawmakers, employers
and patients about the complexity and opacity around how drugs are
bought and sold. Members of Congress and some employer groups have
argued that the current setup is flawed and secretive.

“Transparency and clear pass-through pricing based on the actual cost of
the drugs is exactly what we have been hoping the market will do,” said
Elizabeth Mitchell, chief executive of the Purchaser Business Group on
Health.

The company’s move appears to be a step in that direction, Mitchell
said, though she wants more detail on its plans. “What really matters
is, will this make drugs more affordable?” she said.

CVS said prices will much more closely reflect what the company’s
pharmacies pay to acquire the drugs. The shift will likely also
eliminate many high-profile discrepancies in which patients with
insurance found they could get medications for less when they paid cash
with a drug discount card instead of using their employers’ drug-benefit
coverage.

The pharmacies will be paid in “a much simpler and more transparent
way,” said CVS Chief Pharmacy Officer Prem Shah. “We want to change the
market for the future.”

The company will call the payment model CostVantage. When it starts
rolling out next year, the new prices will first become available to
consumers paying cash for their prescriptions using an array of drug
discount cards.

In 2025, the setup will be incorporated into CVS pharmacies’ contracts
with pharmacy-benefit managers covering drugs paid for under employer plans.

Executives said they plan to implement the new retail pharmacy-payment
model for government-backed coverage, such as Medicare plans, in the future.

CVS said the change isn’t expected to increase its pharmacies’ profits,
but would ensure more stable and predictable earnings. The company
declined to disclose target ranges for its drug markup or the flat fees.

Fein said that, over time, the new model will likely mean that retail
pharmacies are able to halt the trend toward shrinking profits on
prescriptions and retain higher margins than they otherwise would have.

He also said that CVS-linked units are sometimes involved in setting the
price of drugs sold to the company’s own pharmacies, which may muddy the
picture.

A CVS spokesman said its pharmacies pass the value of all of their drug
savings on to PBMs and other payers.

Pharmacies are mostly paid by pharmacy-benefit managers—including CVS
Caremark, a sister company to the retail-pharmacy unit—often using a
complicated setup in which compensation targets are set across groups of
drugs, not for particular products.

Under that model, pharmacies may get paid at relatively higher rates for
certain medications, and use that margin to subsidize losses on other
prescriptions. Using a “cost-plus” structure, this should no longer be
typical.

Still, CVS’s pharmacy unit will be using an index to approximate its
cost for acquiring drugs.

CVS will also introduce a new option for clients of its PBM, CVS
Caremark, that will work in tandem with the new retail pharmacy-payment
scheme. The new PBM product, called TrueCost, will be based on the net
cost of drugs with defined fee structures, the company said. Employers
and other clients will have the choice to use it or not.

However, employers may be reluctant to take one step that is part of the
TrueCost setup, which involves applying rebates the PBM receives from
drugmakers to individual prescriptions for those drugs. Currently,
patients often pay out of pocket amounts based on the higher, prerebate
price. Employers and insurers sometimes use those rebates to offset
other healthcare costs.

Other pharmacy-benefit managers have also been touting efforts to
increase transparency and clarity. Express Scripts, a unit of , recently
announced a new model called ClearNetwork.

Joseph Walker contributed to this article.

Write to Anna Wilde Mathews at Anna.Mathews-at-wsj.com


--
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
http://www.mrbrklyn.com
DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002

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Being so tracked is for FARM ANIMALS and extermination camps,
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