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That $200 Drug Card Won't be in the Mail Just Yet

Trump's campaign proposal was a surprise to the rest of government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 15, 2020 5:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump’s plan to mail millions of seniors a $200 prescription savings card has hit legal and budget roadblocks, making it unlikely the government can carry it out before Election Day. Democratic lawmakers have raised questions about whether the administration has the authority to order on its own billions of dollars in Medicare spending for what the Democrats say are political reasons, the AP reports. Administration and congressional officials say such questions have bogged down review of the plan by agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. A White House official had no comment on the status of the prescription cards, which Trump announced with a flourish last month during a health care speech in Charlotte.

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The Medicare agency said in a statement that "the administration is committed to lowering out-of-pocket costs for our nation’s seniors." When Trump announced the plan, it seemed like the cards discounting co-pays were about to go in the mail. The plan came as a surprise to rank-and-file officials at HHS and CMS who were expected to carry it out, an administration official said. The agencies are trying to move ahead on it, but the official said it first has to pass the legal and procedural checks that would apply to any similar idea. Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, said the card would help a lot of people a little bit but wouldn't address the underlying problem of high prescription drug costs. "It would do relatively little for seniors with truly catastrophic prescription drug expenses," she said.

(Read more health care stories.)

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