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Health researchers have suggested many changes for Medicare’s drug purchasing, including having Medicare negotiate directly with companies and creating a system in which doctors would be reimbursed without a direct link to what kinds of drugs are prescribed for patients. The current practice can create an incentive for doctors to, at times, favor newer and more expensive drugs over older ones.
Whatever Congress does, the margin paid to cancer doctors on drug sales appears likely to continue to drop, despite strong lobbying by industry groups.
“There is a sense that this will get reversed and fixed,” Ward said. “I don’t know that I believe that.”