• In this June 14, 2011 file photo, various prescription drugs on the automated pharmacy assembly line at Medco Health Solutions in Willingboro, N.J. A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015, according to the program’s number-crunching Office of the Actuary.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

    Senator: Is Medicare drug plan vulnerable to exploitation?

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior senator is examining whether Medicare’s prescription drug benefit is vulnerable to manipulation by pharmaceutical companies that set very high prices for medications.

  • In this June 14, 2011 file photo, various prescription drugs on the automated pharmacy assembly line at Medco Health Solutions in Willingboro, N.J. A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015, according to the program’s number-crunching Office of the Actuary.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

    AP Exclusive: Pricey drugs overwhelm Medicare safeguard

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show.

  • In this June 14, 2011 file photo, various prescription drugs on the automated pharmacy assembly line at Medco Health Solutions in Willingboro, N.J. A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015, according to the program’s number-crunching Office of the Actuary.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

    AP Exclusive: Medicare safeguard overwhelmed by pricey drugs

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show.

  • This photo combo shows signage for health insurers Humana Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., and Anthem Inc. On Thursday, July 21, 2016, federal regulators said they are suing to stop two major health insurance mergers because they say the deals will increase health care costs for Americans and lower the quality of care they get. The Department of Justice said that the combinations of Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna would hurt competition that restrains the price of coverage and reduce benefits, among other drawbacks. (AP Photo)

    Feds say health mergers would increase costs, threaten care

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — The U.S. government is suing to stop two major health insurance mergers, a move regulators say is needed to protect Americans from potential cost hikes and lower quality care.