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After some delay, the $200 prescription drug discount cards that President Trump promised to Medicare beneficiaries may be brought back to life after all.
In late September, Trump announced at a campaign rally in Charlotte, NC that Medicare beneficiaries would receive $200 debit cards to use toward prescription drug copays and coinsurance. The cards were part of the administration’s America First Healthcare Plan.
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Trump’s plan hit legal and logistical snags and all but disappeared from public eye through the remainder of the presidential election. But one of these initial hurdles was finally cleared on December 14 when the Special Interest Group for Inventory Information Approval System Standards (SIGIS) approved the plan.
SIGIS is a not-for-profit advisory panel that assists the federal government in matters of electronic point-of-sale transactions. After initially blocking the Trump administration’s plans for the $200 discount cards, the group lent its approval for the mass production of millions of debit cards.
Trump’s plan includes sending cards to nearly 33 million Medicare beneficiaries who have prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans starting in the beginning of January 2021.
While SIGIS approval allows the discount card plan to advance, it isn’t in the clear just yet.
The White House positioned the plan as a legally authorized “test” of the Medicare program in order to gain approval. But such tests, or “demonstrations,” must be approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicare. Some drug policy researchers have questioned whether or not Trump’s plan meets the standards required for such an approval from the CMS.
Another obstacle for the plan is White House turnover. The Biden administration will not be implementing the America First Healthcare Plan drafted by the Trump team and is unlikely to support the use of the drug discount cards. It also remains unclear if the cards could be sent before the Jan. 20 inauguration. The White House has said it plans for the cards to be sent out by January 1.
The estimated cost, $7.9 billion, has been a cause of concern for some politicians and pundits, given other government spending priorities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.
Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.
Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.
Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.
A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.