Trump's plan for $ 200 Medicare drug playing cards is transferring ahead, although the hurdles stay
There is still a chance, albeit slim, that some Medicare beneficiaries will receive some cash to cover the cost of prescription drugs.
Almost three months after President Donald Trump announced his intention to send $ 200 drug rebate cards to millions of Medicare patients, the stalled plan has cleared a major hurdle: an industry group that ensures legal standards for health cards are met adhered to, gave their approval on Monday evening after a report in Politico.
While the group's blessings were necessary to move the idea forward, other complications remain. For example, the administration would need a plan to notify approximately 39 million beneficiaries that the cards are coming, and it is uncertain how many could be mailed before Trump's tenure.
"In practice, there is not much time (government) left to push this through, especially given other priorities related to the pandemic," said Tricia Neuman, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Medicare program.
The Biden administration, which takes over Jan. 20, is not expected to endorse the cards, which have been criticized for their cost ($ 7.9 billion) and questionable legality.
Trump first pushed his plan through during a campaign speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late September. The White House has announced that the cards will be paid for as part of a Medicare program designed to test innovations in general to lower prices or improve health care.
In this case, the idea would be to measure whether the extra money would improve a person's ability to take medication as prescribed because they could afford it better. Medicare has no limit on the cost of prescription drugs under Part D. However, lower-income beneficiaries are already receiving additional assistance and appear to be excluded from this proposal.
"At this point, a $ 200 drug card looks more like a party favor than a serious attempt to address drug costs or testing strategies to improve drug compliance," Neuman said.
Neither the White House nor the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responded to requests for comment.
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