Cures for hepatitis C are an investment worth making

New cures for hepatitis C are helping Medicare beneficiaries live longer, healthier lives. It is disingenuous to look at Medicare spending on these treatments without considering the substantial rebates and competition in the program [“Medicare spending for hepatitis C drugs surges,” news, Oct. 18].

Competition and robust negotiation in Medicare Part D are controlling costs. Private plans command steep discounts on prescription prices under Part D, including groundbreaking cures for hepatitis C. In fact, additional treatment options approved in the past year led to competition-generated savings for a variety of payers, including Medicare. Average rebates on some of these products increased from 22 percent in 2014 to 46 percent in 2015. Average rebate levels in Part D have increased each year of the program. Even the 2015 Medicare trustees report that rebates are substantial.

Moreover, researchers at Harvard University suggest new hepatitis C therapies may generate cost savings for the health-care system over the long run. Medicare is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these savings, as beneficiaries remain in the program once they become eligible.

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