White House pulls back on drug ‘rebate’ plan to lower costs

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the plan would cost taxpayers $177 billion over 10 years.

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President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar

President Donald Trump speaks about kidney health at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Washington.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Donald Trump is withdrawing a plan that would have eased the financial bite of drug costs for people on Medicare by allowing them to receive rebates that drugmakers now pay insurers and middlemen.

The plan from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was once highly promoted, but ran into opposition within the White House.

The pushback grew after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the plan would have little impact on manufacturer prices and would cost taxpayers $177 billion over 10 years.

White House spokesman Judd Deere says the change was made “based on careful analysis and thorough consideration.”

Deere says Trump isn’t backing away from his promise to lower drug prices, and the administration is setting its sights on bipartisan legislation in Congress.

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