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Concept: Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


Legalization of medical marijuana has been one of the most controversial areas of state policy change over the past twenty years. However, little is known about whether medical marijuana is being used clinically to any significant degree. Using data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, we found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented. National overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending when states implemented medical marijuana laws were estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013. The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Prescription drug, Cannabis, Medical prescription, Food and Drug Administration, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, Pharmaceuticals policy


To examine national changes in rates of cost-related prescription nonadherence (CRN) by age group, we used data from the 1999-2015 Sample Adult and Sample Child National Health Interview Surveys (n = 768 781). In a logistic regression analysis of 2015 data, we identified subgroups at risk for cost-related nonadherence. The proportion of all Americans who did not fill a prescription in the previous 12 months because they could not afford it grew from 1999 to 2009, peaking at 8.3% at the height of the Great Recession and dropping to 5.2% by 2015. CRN among seniors, however, peaked in 2004 at 5.4% and dropped to 3.6% after implementation of Medicare Part D in 2006. CRN is responsive to improved access related to implementation of Medicare Part D and the Affordable Care Act. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 23, 2016: e1-e4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303269).

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Medicare, Late-2000s recession, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act



Nonadherence to taking prescribed antihypertensive medication (antihypertensive) regimens has been identified as a leading cause of poor blood pressure control among persons with hypertension and an important risk factor for adverse cardiovascular disease outcomes. CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analyzed geographic, racial-ethnic, and other disparities in nonadherence to antihypertensives among Medicare Part D beneficiaries in 2014.

Concepts: Medicare, Blood pressure, Vital signs, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


BACKGROUND:: Oral antineoplastic drugs, not generally covered by Medicare Part B, have assumed an increasingly important role in cancer treatment. OBJECTIVE:: We examined use and spending on infused/injected (Part B covered) and non-Part B antineoplastic agents in a Medicare beneficiary population with cancer, and the effect of supplemental insurance. RESEARCH DESIGN:: This retrospective, observational study used pooled 1997-2007 data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, linked to Medicare claims. Logistic regression models identified factors associated with antineoplastic use. Generalized linear models were used to estimate spending among antineoplastic users. Population studied: A total of 1836 Medicare beneficiaries with newly diagnosed cancer were selected based on the presence of claims-based diagnoses after a 12-month washout period. RESULTS:: Five hundred fifty-nine (31.0%) Medicare beneficiaries received antineoplastic therapy; 395 (21.3%) used Part B, 253 (14.6%) used non-Part B antineoplastics. Spending per user was $7841 (any), $10,364 (Part B), and $1535 for non-Part B antineoplastics. Supplemental insurance was associated with antineoplastic use. Primary cancer site and age were key predictors of spending among users. Spending on non-Part B antineoplastics increased during 2006-2007 relative to 2004-2005 but time trends were not significant in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS:: Antineoplastic therapy use by Medicare beneficiaries is sensitive to the presence but not type of supplemental insurance. Non-Part B therapy was used by a relatively large proportion of beneficiaries with cancer receiving therapy, although spending was less than for Part B therapy. Monitoring the role of supplemental insurance, and particularly the role of Medicare Part D is a critical area for ongoing research.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, Antineoplastic


BACKGROUND: Generic alendronate was approved in the United States on February 6, 2008. Medicare beneficiaries might pay for generic alendronate out-of-pocket without having claims submitted, resulting in misclassification of generic alendronate use in Medicare data. OBJECTIVES: To estimate the completeness of generic alendronate use in 2008 Medicare Part D data; to identify factors associated with staying on branded alendronate versus switching to a generic product. METHODS: We identified Medicare beneficiaries highly adherent (medication possession ratio ≥80%) with branded alendronate during 1/1/06-2/6/07 (“2007 cohort”) and during 1/1/07-2/6/08 (“2008 cohort”). The outcome was medication status at the end of follow-up (12/31/2007 or 12/31/2008), classified as continued branded alendronate, switched to generic alendronate, switched to another bisphosphonate or presumed discontinued bisphosphonate therapy. Cox regression estimated the hazard ratio (HR) for discontinuation in 2008 compared to 2007. Multinomial logistic regression identified factors associated with medication status for the 2008 cohort. RESULTS: Among 15 310 subjects using branded alendronate in the 2008 cohort, 81% switched to generic alendronate. The proportion presumably discontinuing bisphosphonate therapy was 8.9% in 2008 compared to 7.7% in the 2007 cohort (adjusted HR, 1.15; 95% confidence interval, 1.05, 1.26). Factors associated with staying on branded alendronate in 2008 were higher income, eligibility for a low income subsidy and use of Fosamax® plus vitamin D. CONCLUSION: Evaluation of Medicare prescription drug data suggests that the amount of missing claims for generic alendronate in 2008 was not substantial, and misclassification of exposure in studies examining alendronate use post-generic product availability should be minimal. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Regression analysis, Prescription drug, Medicare, Statistics, Multinomial logit, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


The U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act mandates the reporting of payments or items of value received by physicians from drug, medical device, and biological agent manufacturers. The impact of these payments on physician prescribing has not been examined at large scale.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, Medicine, Physician, Anatomy, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


The improvement of medication use is a critical mechanism that accountable care organization (ACO) could use to save overall costs. Currently pharmaceutical spending is not part of the calculation for ACO-shared savings and risks. Thus, ACO providers may have strong incentives to prescribe more medications hoping to avoid expensive downstream medical costs.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, Medicine, Drug, Management, Pharmaceutical drug, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


Background:Despite evidence that improved outcomes are associated with more distal lower extremity amputations (LEA), the impact of recent advances in the orthopedic approach to diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) on the use and anatomic level of LEAs is unknown.Methods:We queried the complete Medicare Part B claims database (2000-2010) for volume and reimbursement of all codes designating LEAs (hip and below) as well as a selection representing orthopedic treatments for DFU. Procedures were grouped for analysis; utilization rates per 100,000 Medicare enrollees and compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of payments were calculated. Data are presented in the context of national health care spending trends.Results:LEA utilization rates declined from 282.5 to 201.0 per 10(5) enrollees (-28.8%) over the decade. In general, declines were greatest for the most proximal levels and smallest for the most distal sites. Use of orthopedic treatments for DFUs, including Achilles tendon release and total contact casting, rose from 26.0 to 63.3 per 10(5) enrollees (+143.3%). Payment trends mirrored utilization data. During this period, total health care spending in the United States increased at a CAGR of 6.5%, whereas total Medicare payments rose at a CAGR of 8.9%.Conclusion:The last decade saw a marked decline in the use of LEA in the Medicare population, despite unfavorable demographic changes. Furthermore, it became more likely for LEAs to occur at distal, limb-conserving locations. Over the same period, use of orthopedic treatments for DFU increased sharply.

Concepts: Medicare, Health insurance, Tendon, Health care in the United States, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, Money, Compound annual growth rate, Single-payer health care


While many new medications may offer advantages over existing drugs, some newer drugs are reformulations of existing products that provide little innovation or incremental benefit while driving up drug costs. Despite the lack of benefit of these medications, prescribers may be motivated by payments made by the pharmaceutical industry. The objective of the study was to determine the association between payments made to physicians by the pharmaceutical industry and prescriptions for certain selected costly brand name drugs.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, Medicine, Drug, Pharmaceutical drug, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act