Increased drug utilization can decrease Medicare spending, NASP speaker says

Former Obama chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle cites CBO report showing 5% decrease in spending when utilization increases by 1%

SAN ANTONIO — An increase of 1% in prescribed drug use decreases Medicare spending on other medical services by 5%, according to statements made Tuesday at a specialty pharmacy conference by a former chief of staff for the Obama administration.

Speaking at the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy's Strategic Business Exchange in San Antonio, Nancy-Ann DeParle cited a Congressional Budget Office report that she said helped underscore the important role that specialty pharmacy plays in healthcare cost containment, adding that the conservative nature of the CBO and actuaries led her to believe the actual effect of increased drug utilization was a 10% decrease in spending on medical services. The address lasted 90 minutes and included questions from industry panelists and members of the audience. DeParle is president Barack Obama's former White House chief of staff for policy.

"The impact of the changes associated with the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] are far-reaching, particularly in the specialty pharmacy industry," NASP CEO and co-founder Gary Cohen said. "It is essential that we continue to engage our community to continue the dialogue around this important issue."

DeParle said much remained to be done to "tweak" the healthcare reform law and acknowledged the "disappointing" technical performance of the federal insurance marketplace, which was overwhelmed by users when it debuted at the beginning of the month. But, she said, the response by millions of people "leads me to be encouraged as to how many people will come in and buy the insurance."


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