On Thursday, January 31, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led by Secretary Alex Azar, announced a proposal that will have the biggest impact on the American healthcare system since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.
The Trump Administration aims to lower drug prices for recipients of Medicare and other government programs by banning drug makers from paying rebates to pharmacy benefits middlemen known as PBMs.
Ironically, Azar is the former president of Lilly USA, a pharmaceutical company that has been criticized for raising its prices. During his decade with Lilly, the company notoriously tripled the price of insulin.
Unfortunately for seniors, the new policy is a huge bait and switch that leaves most paying more — a fact the HHS admits in its own report.
While running for president in 2016, Donald Trump promised voters that his Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace bill would provide insurance for everyone. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us,” he said.
Instead, the proposal would have caused 14 million people to lose their healthcare immediately and another 10 million people to lose it over the next decade.
Luckily, it failed to pass the Senate.
In October 2018, the Trump Administration imposed new rules to make it easier for insurance providers to discriminate against sick consumers. While on the same day, he told supporters at a Philadelphia rally, “We will always protect Americans with preexisting conditions.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The new rule includes a 60-day period for public comment. The new protections could go into effect as soon as that period passes.
It’s unlikely that this proposal will affect working Americans’ healthcare in the near future because it has been criticized by two committees overseeing healthcare in the Democrat-controlled House.
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