White House yanks drug ‘rebate’ plan to ease costs for some

President Donald Trump is withdrawing a plan to ease the financial bite of costly medications for people on Medicare by letting them receive rebates that drugmakers now pay to insurers and middlemen, the White House said Thursday.

The once-highly promoted plan from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar ran into opposition within the White House. The pushback grew after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the plan would have little impact on manufacturer prices and cost Medicare $177 billion over 10 years by leading to higher premiums subsidized by taxpayers.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the proposal to create the rebate program was withdrawn “based on careful analysis and thorough consideration.” It was not immediately clear whether that meant the end of the debate on rebates because other proposals on the same issue could surface on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are working with the administration on drug cost legislation.

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