Stark Files Brief Opposing Bush’s Medicare Discount Drug Card Plan
As expected, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) has filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., supporting drug stores and community pharmacists in a suit against President Bush's plan to provide Medicare beneficiaries with drug discount cards, the Oakland Tribune reports (Friedman, Oakland Tribune, 8/13). Under the plan, announced last month, 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. Last month, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacist Association filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to block the plan's implementation, claiming that the administration lacks the "authority" to implement the plan without congressional approval (California Healthline, 7/18). According to the suit, the administration held "secret meetings" with drug company representatives to develop the plan. Stark said, "The product of these meetings, what they call a drug discount card program, is nothing but a gift-wrapped present for their fat-cat friends. The proposal does nothing ... to guarantee that seniors will actually receive any discounts" (Oakland Tribune, 8/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.