Trump’s Drug-Discount Cards Expected to Reach Medicare Recipients After Election

President Trump’s plan to send 33 million Medicare beneficiaries a card that can be used to help pay for as much as $200 in prescription drug costs won’t be completed until after the election, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The cards will be mailed in phases, with some likely going out later in October but most not until after the Nov. 3 presidential election, the person said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is spending an estimated $20 million for administrative costs to print and send letters to Medicare beneficiaries informing them that they will be getting cards, the person said.

Plans for the overall drug-discount program have been sent to the Office for Management and Budget, the person said. It is unclear if or when the office will approve the program, which could cost $8 billion, the person said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare designed for people 65 and older, is unable to say exactly when the cards will go out because the proposal is still at OMB. Beneficiaries will have two years to use the discount cards, the person said.

Low-income beneficiaries who don’t already get financial assistance for medications would likely get the cards, according to the person familiar with the planning, rather than everyone in Medicare Part D, which helps cover prescription drug costs for people 65 and older.

Mr. Trump surprised his own health-administration leaders on Sept. 24 when he announced the plan to mail out prescription drug cards. The discount cards were proposed by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said an administration official.

CMS officials rushed to figure out how the program could be structured and designed, according to two people familiar with the planning.

The proposed plan calls for funding the cards from two Medicare trust funds, according to the administration official. It would run out of a CMS office that tests new models for providing or paying for health care.

The program lets officials waive Medicare’s laws or standards to test if new initiatives increase efficiency and “economy of programs” without adversely affecting quality, according to CMS. These waiver programs have generally been required to show they won’t increase federal spending beyond what would have occurred without the test.

The drug-discount-card plan, for example, could be designed to test if people are more adherent to medications if they are given a discount, according to the administration official.

Democrats and other critics have said providing discounts doesn’t fit with the parameters or goals of the program, and they say it is unwise to tap the Medicare trust funds at the same time one of the funds is facing insolvency concerns.

Medicare is funded by two trust funds held by the U.S. Treasury. The trusts pay for hospital care and to administer the federal health-insurance program for people 65 and older and the disabled. They are funded through payroll taxes, income taxes paid on Social Security benefits and other sources.

The Medicare trust

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Health officials warn against Mother’s Day gatherings while modeling projects more US deaths than expected

“As a result, COVID-19 spread among attendees. Remember, the best way to celebrate #MothersDay and any other occasion is by STAYING HOME and staying healthy”

Louisiana health officials suggested safe alternatives, like having a virtual brunch together.

For those still planning to see their mothers in person, “Resist the temptation to hug your mom and maintain six feet of separation,” the Louisiana Department of Public Health said.
Older adults have the highest risk of severe complications or death from coronavirus. And the numbers of cases and deaths keep rising.
By Sunday, more than 1,320,000 people in the US have been infected, and more than 79,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

‘Explosive increases in mobility’ leads to more projected deaths

A projection model cited by the White House now predicts thousands more deaths, largely due to “explosive increases in mobility in a number of states.”

The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, now forecasts 137,000 deaths in the United States by August, up from an earlier prediction of about 134,000.
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IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said cell phone data shows Americans are moving more, suggesting more infections to come.

“We’re seeing just explosive increases in mobility in a number of states that we expect will translate into more cases and deaths in 10 days from now,” Murray told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“What’s driving the change is, simply put, the rise in mobility,” Murray said. “We’re seeing in some states a 20 percentage point increase in just 10 days in mobility. And that will translate into more human contact, more transmission.”

He said the top five states that have seen increased mobility are Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Georgia.

Other states have seen a 15-20 percentage point increase in mobility, according to an IHME press release: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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But as unemployment rates soar, governors are starting to reopen more businesses — even though many have not yet met all of the White House’s guidelines on when to safely do so.
Most states have eased restrictions. See where your state stands
And public health experts have said there’s still not enough testing or contact tracing to safely reopen the country.
But no one will know the health effects of each state’s reopening for weeks.
“It will be at least two to three weeks before we see an increase in the number of infections because it takes time for individuals to infect others and for them to display symptoms,” said data scientist Youyang Gu, whose coronavirus projection model is cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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For those who might succumb to new infections, “around three weeks is the average time between infection to death,” said Gu, citing studies from Italy and China.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said if measures are lifted
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