The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a final rule for establishing a prescription-drug discount program for Medicare beneficiaries, despite an ongoing federal court case challenging its authority to do so. "We're going to proceed as if we had the authority," CMS Administrator Thomas Scully said. Last fall, pharmacy trade groups won a court victory requiring a written regulation for the program. CMS' proposed regulation, published in February, drew a second lawsuit and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores said it may return to court because the final regulation still doesn't address its concerns, including how much of the program's costs retail pharmacists will have to bear. Under the final regulation, the CMS will endorse sponsors of prescription-drug cards that receive rebates or discounts on brand-name or generic drugs. The CMS said it expects the initiative to yield average overall savings of up to 15%. The program should start early next year and officials hope it will be included in a Medicare drug bill later this year, Scully said. A House-passed prescription-drug plan makes provisions for the program. Click here for more information from the CMS. -- by Susanna Duff
CMS outlines Medicare drug discount plan
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