Monday, June 09, 2008

AMP Delay Buried in New Medicare Bill

On Friday, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) proposed a mammoth Medicare/Medicaid bill that further delays the implementation of Medicaid’s Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) provisions. Depending on your perspective, a delay would represent either the salvation of the pharmacy industry or the victory of emotion over economics.

The bill is called Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (S. 3101). Here are some links for your reading pleasure:

The bill primarily focuses on proposed cuts in physician payments, as the AP headline makes clear (Bill would eliminate Medicare cut for doctors). The text of the bill runs to an awe-inspiring 259 pages.

AMP is addressed way down in Section 203 (on page 251 out of 259 in the full text). Two key points:

  • Delays the use of AMP for Federal Upper Limits of multi-source (generic) drugs until at least September 30, 2009
  • “Temporary” suspension of online publication of AMP data until at least September 30, 2009
Note that the new bill does not incorporate many elements of Senator Baucus’ previously proposed bill S.1951, which has been slowly gaining support. S.1951 now has 49 Senate co-sponsors, including Barack Obama (since last December) and more recently Hillary Clinton (since March). John McCain is not a co-sponsor.

Of course, this is Washington DC, so who really knows whether the AMP section will survive the inevitable earmarks and horse trading. But notch up another victory for the pharmacy’s lobbyists, who are definitely earning their pay!


  1. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    Mazel tov. We need more guys like Max in DC.

  2. Quick update:

    While the bill described in this post stalled, a new bill (H.R.6331) has passed the House by 355 to 59.

    Check out my recent post 11,105 Pharmacies Gone?!? Just More AMP Hype for my perspective on the flawed economic thinking behind the AMP delay.