White House announces Medicare plan to provide insulin for $35 a month

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare recipients will be able to get prescription plans that limit copays for insulin, a potential savings of hundreds of dollars, the White House announced Tuesday in a pivot to pocketbook issues that could influence November’s election.

The new benefit — to be formally unveiled at a Rose Garden event Tuesday afternoon — is being touted as a major accomplishment by Trump administration officials eager to change the subject from the grim drumbeat of coronavirus pandemic news.

Older adults who pick a drug plan offering the new insulin benefit would pay a maximum of $35 a month starting next year, a savings estimated at $446 annually. Fluctuating cost-sharing amounts that are common now would be replaced by a manageable amount.

The new insulin benefit will be voluntary, so during open enrollment this fall Medicare recipients who are interested must make sure to pick an insurance plan that provides it. Most people with Medicare will have access to them.

Stable copays for insulin are the result of a deal shepherded by the administration between insulin manufacturers and major insurers, Medicare chief Seema Verma told The Associated Press. The three major suppliers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, were all involved.

“It was a delicate negotiation,” Verma said. Drugmakers and insurers have been at odds in recent years, blaming one another for high prices. “I do think this is a big step.”

The deal comes as President Donald Trump returns to the issue of drug prices, trying to woo older people whose votes are critical to his reelection prospects.

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