MEDIA COLUMN — The Trump administration will continue to insist that emergency medical services be covered by Medicare for the foreseeable future.
The White House and other administration officials have been arguing for years that Medicare is not in a position to negotiate the prices of drugs and other medical care.
That has led to arguments that the federal government should step in and negotiate with drugmakers and other providers, or provide other financial incentives to encourage them to negotiate higher prices.
But the Trump Administration is not taking that approach.
In a recent statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will continue its efforts to ensure that Americans have access to the critical services they need, including critical care, while ensuring that Americans are not left out of critical care decisions.
The administration will be taking additional steps to ensure Medicare and other programs are fully funded for their essential functions.”
The ACA requires Medicare to pay a set price for services like emergency room visits, and it does so through a program called “COVID-19 Rebate.”
But it’s unclear if Congress will authorize the administration to negotiate a price with drug and device makers and other companies to cover the costs of those emergency room trips.”COVID (and related) treatments are not covered by COBRA,” Sanders said.
“However, as part of the COVID Rebate, the White House is working with other government entities to ensure these important benefits are fully paid for by the government.
The White House remains committed to supporting Medicare and its essential services through the COBAR program, including COVID-20 Rebate and other cost-sharing reductions.”
Sanders did not say when the administration plans to continue negotiating with drug companies and other industry representatives.
But if the administration wants to, it can help negotiate prices.
“It’s not a matter of whether or not the federal Government should negotiate the COBIT rebate,” Sanders wrote.
“It is the responsibility of the federal Medicare program to pay for COBIT-related benefits.
The Trump Administration has been negotiating with other parties to ensure this is done.
We have made clear our willingness to negotiate if the other parties will do so in a fair and reasonable manner.”
This is the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump White House to convince other parties that they should be responsible for covering the costs for their medical care and that they shouldn’t be forced to pay higher prices for it.
As part of their efforts, the administration has been lobbying for changes in Medicare’s insurance plan.
This week, the Treasury Department said that the White and Congressional leaders should work on a plan that would “allow Medicare to negotiate with insurers and other private sector providers to ensure the COBER (Co-pay Reduction) benefits are covered by the federal program.”
Sanders’ comments came after Trump made the same claim on Twitter in April, saying, “It will be very interesting to see how many new members the [Congressional Budget Office] score will be in the coming weeks, but I can tell you it will be MUCH higher than the CBO score from April.”
The White Houses Office of Management and Budget declined to comment for this story.
Sanders also said that “there is no question that if there were to be a COVID epidemic, Medicare would be the first entity that would be hit the hardest.
That is why it is imperative that we do everything we can to help patients and ensure they have access for their treatment.
In order to do that, we must negotiate the lowest possible cost-shifting.”
Sanders was responding to a tweet from the Trump transition team, which included a link to a statement by Sanders that said, “[I]t’s important that we negotiate a COBIT Rebate that will cover the COBI costs of COVID (Cooperative Bidding Initiative), COVID/HIV (Covenant Health), and other critical care services that are already covered by our current COBIT program.
This will allow Medicare to cover costs for those critical care benefits.”
Sanders added that the Trump and Democratic administrations have worked together to negotiate COBIT rebates for other health programs, including Medicare.
“We have reached a significant milestone with COBI, and we are now working with the Congressional Budget Office and other experts to develop a COBI Rebate,” Sanders added.
“As we work with our partners in Congress, we will continue working to ensure COBI and other vital services are fully covered by this program.
We will continue negotiating on behalf of all Americans.”
But the White Houses argument has not held up.
The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires the White Senate and the House of Representatives to negotiate for a rebate.
The legislation doesn’t require the White house to take the lead.
Instead, the rebate is set by a formula that determines the amount of money that the government will pay to the private insurers that participate in COBIT.
In some states, like New York, the government pays out more money than the rebate.
States that have