Vermont Institutes Prescription Drug Program Despite Lawsuit
Despite the possibility that a federal judge may block Vermont's new prescription drug program, the state has enrolled at least 200 residents after implementing the discount plan on Jan. 1, the AP/Nashua Telegraph reports. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has filed suit against the federal government for granting Vermont a "waiver of Medicaid rules" that allowed the state to implement the program, which provides participants with up to 30% discounts on prescription drugs. A Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court judge has informed both sides that he intends to rule on PhRMA's request that the program "be put on hold" pending the outcome of the trial, a decision that could come at any time. Still, Vermont Human Services Secretary Jane Kitchel said the state "launched the new program Tuesday in the absence of a court directive blocking it," the AP/Telegraph reports. In the lawsuit, PhRMA challenged the legality of the HHS decision to grant the waiver allowing those not eligible for Medicaid to enroll in the program and receive discounts through rebates and "bulk-purchasing provisions," arguing, "[T]he secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the state of Vermont have, in effect, made an 'end run' around existing federal law by creating a new 'governmeThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.