Medicaid Prescription Drug Benefit Management: Performance Comparison Across Different State Policy Approaches
States that employ Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) to pay for prescription drugs outperform states that rely on the fee-for-service (FFS) setting to control drug costs. Despite larger rebates in FFS, MCOs’ effective strategies to encourage…
The purpose of this study is to assess the impacts of Kentucky’s Medicaid managed care program. The key components of this assessment include:
• Cost impacts of the Medicaid managed care program across the past two decades
• Performance on key quality measures
• Opioid and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) prescription drug usage trends
• Kentucky’s recent experience with COVID-19 vaccinations
• Minimum contract requirements for managed care organizations (MCOs) to participate in Kentucky’s Medicaid program
• Competitive procurement dynamics
The purpose of this study is to compare the US states that have adopted the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid Expansion to the states that have not done so. The Medicaid Expansion makes people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty (FPL) line eligible for Medicaid. The US Supreme Court ruling in June 2012 made the Medicaid Expansion, originally intended to be nationwide, optional for states. To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia have implemented this Expansion.
We compare a group of states that adopted the Medicaid population, excluding a few states that had, pre-ACA, already covered most or all of this Expansion population, to those states that had not adopted this Expansion through the end of 2019. We compare these groups of states across the Medicaid Expansion timeframe that was available for analysis (typically 2014-2019). Some of the key components of our assessment included:
• Health Coverage — particularly impacts on the size of the uninsured population
• Medicaid Costs – overall and at the state and federal level
• Deaths in the under-65 population
• Employment Levels and Unemployment Rates
This study is an objective analysis of the observed impact of Medicaid Expansion on the number of uninsured, Medicaid costs to both states and the federal government, deaths, employment, hospitals’ financial situation, and other key outcomes. The intent is to help inform the states that have not yet implemented the Expansion about its likely impact, as well as to demonstrate for Expansion states the aggregated impacts that have occurred.
The New Jersey Association of Health Plans enlisted the Menges Group to evaluate New Jersey’s Medicaid prescription drug costs and assess the potential impacts of a pharmacy carve-out approach, whereby the prescription drug benefit would be removed from the MCOs’ responsibility and paid for in the fee-for-service (FFS) setting. We also assess the impacts of two potential policy changes, including maintaining MCO responsibility for the prescription drug benefit but requiring the use of the same preferred drug list (PDL) and MCOs’ mandatory use of a single Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) subcontractor.
We estimate that carving pharmacy benefits out of the MCO benefit package will cost the State of New Jersey $51 million in the first year, with cumulative state costs across the first five years of the carve-out totaling $454 million. Additionally, we find that due to a weakened ability to manage drug mix at the “front end,” moving to a uniform DHS-driven PDL will cost the State of New Jersey $3 million in the first year, with cumulative state costs across the first five years totaling $26 million. Finally, our analyses show that a policy approach of requiring all MCOs to use the same PBM is also unlikely to yield savings.
Virginia began implementing a Common Core Formulary within its Medicaid managed care program in 2017 for CCC Plus members and in 2018 for Medallion 4.0 members. The Virginia Association of Health Plans (VAHP) engaged The Menges Group to analyze the fiscal and programmatic impacts of this policy change. Our tabulations indicate that the change to the Common Core Formulary led to increased net (post-rebate) Medicaid costs of $13.2 million during calendar year 2019, including $5.5 million in additional state funds.
Some Virginia policymakers have indicated an interest in moving to a pharmacy “carve-out” within the Medicaid managed care program, whereby the state would instead manage the pharmacy benefit for MCO enrollees, including paying directly for drugs made available in the program. Virginia’s Association of Health Plans engaged The Menges Group to estimate the fiscal impacts of Virginia switching to a carve-out model as well as the programmatic advantages and disadvantages of this potential change. We estimate that a change to a pharmacy carve-out would result in a 20.2% increase in net (post-rebate) Medicaid pharmacy expenditures across the five year timeframe SFY2020 – 2024, increasing net state fund costs by $12 million in the first year of implementation and by $157 million over five years.
Value of Managed Care Organizations and Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Managing the Medicaid Prescription Drug Benefit
PCMA engaged The Menges Group to estimate the financial and programmatic value of managing the prescription drug benefit in the Medicaid managed care setting, comparing states that utilize MCOs – who contract with PBMs – for their prescription drug benefits to states that manage their prescription drug benefits in FFS. Using Medicaid prescription drug data reported by each state to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for all Medicaid-paid pharmacy-dispensed prescriptions, we analyzed how prescription drug costs and usage vary depending on how prevalent managed care is in each state Medicaid program. We also analyzed the drug costs and usage within specific therapeutic drug classes.
Policymakers are considering moving Medi-Cal to a pharmacy “carve-out” – that is, shifting the pharmacy benefit out of managed care to instead be administered by the state in fee-for-service (FFS). The carve-out proposal is motivated, in part, by the potential for the state to collect more drug manufacturer rebates. This report, commissioned by Local Health Plans of California, provides strong evidence that a pharmacy benefit carve-out will not achieve its intended cost savings and will have an adverse impact on the integrated, whole-person approach to care the Medi-Cal program has embraced.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Medical Assistance MCOs engaged The Menges Group to estimate the fiscal impacts of switching to a uniform PDL in Pennsylvania and to assess the programmatic advantages and disadvantages of this policy change. Our analyses indicate that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its taxpayers would incur significant costs if Pennsylvania adopts a uniform, state-determined Medicaid PDL. The state fund cost of this policy change is estimated at $81 million in the first year (FFY2020) and $442 million across the five-year timeframe FFY2020 – FFY2024. The programmatic dynamics of switching to a uniform PDL are also unfavorable. We encourage Pennsylvania policymakers to preserve the PDL latitude model within HealthChoices.
America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) engaged The Menges Group to assess West Virginia’s Medicaid pharmacy carve-out impacts, analyzing the findings of another consulting firm’s report. Our analyses suggest that West Virginia’s carve-out has created increased Medicaid expenditures rather than savings. We also provide a large volume of evidence from states that switched to a carve-in approach (comparing their cost per prescription progression to states that maintained their carve out model). These results, taking into account all Medicaid pharmacy claims and rebates in 13 states and across a several year comparison timeframe, compellingly indicate that the carve-in model has yielded large-scale savings relative to the carve-out approach.