Trump claimed he would mail $200 cards to millions of older Americans weeks before the election — but it's not clear he can actually do it
Donald Trumpsaid on Thursday that older Americans would receive $200 for prescription drugsin the coming weeks, a brazenly political effort to win them over before Election Day.
- "Nobody's seen this before. These cards are incredible," Trump said at an event in North Carolina.
- It wasn't immediately clear whether Trump has the authority to do that, and a leading drug-lobbying group said it had no idea about the administration's plan.
- Drugmakers previously rejected an effort from the administration to send
cash cardsto older Americans as part of a deal to lower drug prices.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that many Americans enrolled in
"Nobody's seen this before. These cards are incredible," Trump said at an event in North Carolina touting the administration's health record. "The cards will be mailed out in coming weeks. I will always take care of our wonderful senior citizens."
If the cards were sent to about 33 million Americans who are Medicare beneficiaries, it could cost $6.6 billion, Bloomberg reported. But it wasn't immediately clear where the funds would come from or whether the White House had the legal authority to distribute the cards.
A senior administration official told Business Insider that the initiative would be approved under a waiver program that gives Medicare space to investigate new
Under that plan, the US would get the lowest price for drugs covered by Medicare that other similarly wealthy countries pay for, usually at a lower cost. But it hasn't gone into effect.
Juliette Cubanski, the deputy director of the Medicare policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Business Insider that it was tough for the administration to argue that it could pull savings from a program that doesn't exist.
"If the idea is to pay for this drug card using savings from a most-favored-nations proposal, that proposal hasn't even been formally issued," Cubanski said. "It's really difficult to see how the administration can use savings that haven't materialized."
Cubanski added that the administration would likely face a lawsuit from the pharmaceutical industry if it tried implementing the proposal through regulatory action; drugmakers fiercely oppose it.
"We have no idea how much it will save, and spending money you don't have in the bank is unwise and, in this instance, unprecedented as well," she said.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a prominent lobbying group for the drug industry, told Business Insider it didn't know what the administration was attempting to carry out.
The organization "does not have any additional information about the cards," a representative said. "As we've previously said, one-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines."
Several polls have found the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, edging out Trump among older voters.
The president also said on Thursday that he was signing an executive order mandating an "official policy of the United States government to protect patients with preexisting conditions."
However, those protections are already enshrined under the Affordable Care Act enacted by President Barack Obama. The administration supports a Republican-led lawsuit before the Supreme Court to wipe the
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