The White House almost reached a deal with Big Pharma that would have limited the costs of prescription drugs for folks on Medicare, but negotiators for the pharmaceutical industry noped out because the Trump administration wanted drug companies to send out $100 cash cards to seniors just before the election, the New York Times reports.

Had it actually gone through, the deal would have done some real good for people using Medicare's prescription drug program. The drug companies would have put up $150 billion to help cover out-of-pocket costs, covering most seniors' co-pays for prescription meds. And with Donald Trump's support from older voters slipping, actually reducing drug costs would have been quite a feather in his cap right before the election. He's been promising big results on prescription drug prices since 2015, and this might have been something to point at as a success.

But oopsies, the industry negotiators refused to get roped into the cash-card stunt:

Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump's chief of staff, insisted the drug makers pay for $100 cash cards that would be mailed to seniors before November — "Trump Cards," some in the industry called them.

Some of the drugmakers bridled at being party to what they feared would be seen as an 11th-hour political boost for Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said.

Oh gosh, looks like another big black eye for America's greatest deal-maker.


The drug makers just didn't like the idea of being paraded on TV for one of Trump's big dumb announcements, perhaps in front of a giant replica of the card, so the deal went into the dumpster like a table full of uneaten fast food after a White House reception for college sportsball players.

"We could not agree to the administration's plan to issue one-time savings cards right before a presidential election," said Priscilla VanderVeer, the vice president of public affairs at PhRMA, the industry's largest trade group. "One-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines."

Yeah, but they'd be such a great prop to wave around at campaign rallies. White House sources also told the Times that the cards wouldn't even necessarily have had his name on them, so how could anyone object? Now that the deal has fallen through, we'll never know. (Our guess: They'd have had the same typeface and layout as a Trump 2020 campaign logo, but without the name.)

The White House, predictably enough, blamed the drug companies for being too greedy to help seniors with a perfectly good political stunt, and announced that the administration would now go ahead with a dumb executive order that Trump actually signed in July and released on September 13, but which hadn't actually gone into effect. The order, for what's being called a "most favored nation price," would set up pilot programs that would require some expensive prescription meds to be sold through Medicare at prices similar to those charged in several other industrialized nations. Only without it being socialized medicine, somehow.

Trump had held off on implementing the order as an incentive for the pharmaceutical companies to negotiate the deal that eventually fell through. But as the Times points out, those pilot programs "are unlikely to be established before the election, and the industry is almost sure to file suit in response."

So hooray! Now that Trump has failed to pressure the drug manufacturers to help out with his campaign stunt, we're sure they'll be delighted by possibly being told they need to roll out a coronavirus vaccine the week before the election. Don't worry, kids, the companies researching vaccines have already pledged they'll release no vaccine until it's fully tested.

Hey, what if Trump sent out cards to every American the week before the election promising they can turn it in for a vaccine when it's ready? Like Kenner did in 1977 when the first Star Wars action figures weren't ready to ship? You could look at the card and wait for the vaccine, and maybe even skip the vaccine so your mint, unopened vaccine card would be a collector's item.

[NYT / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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