The Trump administration is pushing to fulfill an executive order to send $200 drug-discount cards to 39 million Medicare beneficiaries, according to a draft proposal that might be finalized Friday, Politico reported.
"The goal is to begin the test by distributing cards starting in October 2020," the proposal obtained by Politico read.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows are pushing for the cards to be distributed before the Nov. 3 election, officials told Politico.
"This has nothing to do with politics," White House spokesman Judd Deere told Politico. "It's good policy and demonstrates the president is continuing to deliver on his promises to our nation's seniors."
Letter are planned to be sent to Medicare beneficiaries next week, although some seniors might not received the cards until after the election, per the report.
The $200 drug benefit cards would be similar to credit cards to be used only at pharmacies and paid out of Medicare's trust fund, Politico reported.
"It's a shameless stunt that steals billions from Medicare in order to fund a legally dubious scheme that's clearly intended to benefit President Trump's campaign right before Election Day," Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, told Politico.
Trump announced the drug-discount cards Sept. 24 as he released details of his health plan on the campaign trail, to the surprise of some career government health officials, according to Politico.
"This is a solution in search of a problem and a bald play for votes in the form of money in pockets," an HHS official who has reviewed the proposal told Politico.
Trump has seeing declining support among seniors in polls compared to Democrat Joe Biden, after enjoying key support from that voting bloc in the 2016 presidential election.
"This idea was kicking around for months," said a former HHS official, who called the initiative "Trump cards." "It was kind of a joke among pharma lobbyists for a long time."
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