Judge Sets Date For Suit Against Bush Administration’s Prescription Discount Card Plan
In the lawsuit filed by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association over President Bush's proposal to offer seniors a prescription drug discount card, a federal judge has set a hearing for Sept. 6, CongressDaily reports(CongressDaily, 8/8). Under the plan, the federal government would approve discount cards issued by pharmacy benefit managers, which would use the purchasing power of Medicare beneficiaries to negotiate with pharmacies and drug makers to reach discounts of between 15% to 25% off of drugs' retail prices. Participating PBMs would direct seniors to specific drugstores, create preferred drug lists, fill prescriptions by mail and operate telephone call centers to answer consumers' questions. To participate in the plan, seniors would pay a one-time enrollment fee not to exceed $25. The lawsuit, which was filed against HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, says the government followed "improper procedures" in creating the program by meeting with PMBs (CongressDaily8/8). The pharmacy groups say that the plan forces pharmacies to "shoulder ... discounts" without requiring drug makers to lower prices. The government has until next Tuesday to respond to the complaint (CongressDaily, 8/8).