Meanwhile, Charrow and his office last week instructed administration officials to seek guidance from the DOJ’s public integrity section, which deals with election crimes, before advancing the drug discount plan. That stopped the plan while the health department waited for a DOJ review, the two officials said.
“Every day that passes is a fewer days” to release the plan before the election, one of the officials said.
Charrow did not respond to a request for comment, and an HHS spokesman said the department “did not comment on internal consultations.” The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump announced the plan in a speech on Sept. 24, promising that “incredible”; cards will be sent to seniors in the “coming weeks,” and POLITICO last week detailed how the administration officials such as the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma are in a hurry to realize the president’s vision. Meadows and Verma expect to get approval from legal and budget officials on October 9 to send letters to 39 million seniors this week appreciating the administration’s new initiative, according to five knowledgeable officials in the plan and draft documents obtained by POLITICO. The cards themselves were made and distributed throughout the rest of the year, with many seniors accepting them after the election.
Meadows and Verma described drug cards as an authorized “test” of whether drug-discounted cards would help Medicare beneficiaries take their medication more often.
But the proposal has stopped since the POLITICO report, as officials seek to distance themselves from the plan and seek legal cover as the DOJ examines, people with knowledge of the current conversation said.
“This plan is rapidly becoming radioactive,” an official explained about the proposal.
For example, Verma told her allies that she had little idea of Trump’s plan, according to two people he spoke to. A spokesman for Verma did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Health and Human Services Alex Azar and his team also spent several weeks privately withdrawing themselves from the proposal, suggesting that the plan was guided by Medicare officials.
Azar’s spokesman said the secretary supported Trump’s plan. “As the architect of President Trump’s drug pricing blueprint and as a matter of policy, Secretary Azar has always supported the idea of lowering American seniors from pocket drug costs – including the copay card proposal of the President and the plan to directly deliver discounts to seniors at the pharmacy counter, “the spokesman said. The spokesperson referred questions about the timing of the plan to Medicare officials.
The White House referred questions about the plan to the health department.
The Democratic Congress this week called for a watchdog, the Office of Government Accountability, to begin an immediate review of the drug discount card plan.
Since Trump announced the cards last month, much to the surprise of many of his own health officials, civil career servants as well as political appointees have always warned that the plan could run the policies of federal taxpayer spending money or how to properly design a Medicare trial program.
To help the plan qualify as a Medicare trial, Charrow forced officials to consider whether to carry out a random launch of the plan, ensuring that seniors get information at different times and make it easier to compare their responses, said two officials with knowledge of Charrow’s concerns. Legal and health experts warn that the measure is not a real test because it does not have random elements.
However, Trump seeks to give the cards to most seniors covered by the Medicare drug plan, making it more difficult to compare the effects of getting a card versus not accepting one.
Verma’s team, meanwhile, is keeping a close eye on the draft letter to the seniors, announcing the launch of the cards, despite requests from other officials to review its contents and ensure it does not raise additional risks such as the improper celebration of Trump’s role, two officials said.
But those private concerns contradict the president’s public promises, as Trump continues to take the initiative in trying to establish his approval rating of seniors.
“[M]mineral than 35 million Medicare beneficiaries will soon receive a $ 200 mail card that you can use to help pay for prescription drugs, “Trump swears again at an event,” Protecting the Elderly of America, “on Friday afternoon in Florida.
Azar and Verma both joined Trump for the speech.