US President Donald Trump promised for $200 discount cards for drug prescriptions to 33 million elderly Americans
American president Donald Trump announced to give $200 discount cards for drug prescriptions to 33 million elderly Americans a few weeks ahead of elections. The promised scheme amounts to $6.6 billion. The massive program lacks authorisation by Congress.
Republicans have hailed the promise as the first American health care plan.
President’s announcement has a twofold aim. Firstly it seeks to protect people with pre-existing conditions. Secondly, it aims to do away with surprise medical billing.
The insurance providers in America pay for in-network medical care, as preferred by the patient. The present system allows the hospital to treat patients by out-of-network care providers even if she has opted for in-network care. In such a case, patients end up paying high surprise medical bill. Surprise medical bills face thorough disapproval by citizens.
The mentioned objectives are taken care of by the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 act is popularly known as Obamacare. It provides subsidies to consumers with household income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line to make health insurance more affordable. It also expands the Medicaid program and support innovation in medical care. Trump administration is adamant upon bringing a replacement.
Trump’s announcement is in line of his long back promise from 2016 elections. He has consistently asserted for cheap and expanded medical coverage alongside protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Trump has signed several executive orders to lower prescription drug prices a few months ago.
The announcement is facing widespread criticism in political and academic circles. The main issue is around the funding of the scheme and its legal sanctity.
Earlier this month, the president directed Medicare not to pay for prescription drugs. Officials say that savings obtained from the directive will be used to fund discount cards. On the legality front, officials said that discount cards will be authorized under Medicare waiver program, which has not even been presented before the congress.
Washington University Associate Professor raised his concern in an interview for the New York Times, whether it “Is the plan to borrow from potential future savings from a program that does not yet exist?”
Experts are suggesting that the Medicare waiver is being misused. It has a larger purpose to serve. NYT quoted Eliot Fishman, a Medicaid official, saying that Medicare Waiver is designed to test policy ideas that will ensure efficiency and economy of the medical care system.
White House’s previous attempts to attract funds for the plan has failed drastically. In August Pharmaceuticals industry declined to pay for discount cards after Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff tried to reach an agreement with them.
Republicans are contradicting their own principle of authorization of federal spending by Congress. Back in 2014 they fiercely objected Obama White House on this front. Trump even cancelled Obamacare after assuming office.
Democrats are protesting in front of the Supreme Court to oppose the challenge to Obamacare. They hold the view that that Obamacare is a popular program. It must not be repealed on grounds of divisive policies. Death of Justice Ginsburg has twisted the situation. With the nomination of a new justice, chances of abrogating Obamacare will increase.
Efficacy of the program is also in question. Experts pointed out that discount cards are short term measure. It has nothing to do with medical reforms that will bring in sweeping changes in the American healthcare system.