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Market Chatter: White House Exploring Options to Offset Medicare's Exclusion to Cover COVID-19 Vaccine: WSJ

1:25PM ET 9/21/2020 MT Newswires
White House officials are exploring options that would make a COVID-19 vaccine free to all Americans despite Medicare's exclusion of drugs approved under emergency-use designations.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump administration officials realized that Medicare's exclusion of emergency-use drugs (which are subject to less strenuous standards for FDA approval) could leave millions of Americans paying out-of-pocket for the vaccine, and is in conflict with wording within the CARES Act.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) ensures free COVID-19 vaccine coverage, including no out-of-pocket costs for the 44 million Americans on Medicare.

One option would be for Congress to change the language within the CARES Act that would accommodate Medicare coverage of a vaccine. However, administration officials are worried any change to the act can be done before the vaccine becomes available, possibly as early as October.

"People are already concerned about getting a vaccine before it's fully vetted," said Larry Levitt, executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, "and if cost is a barrier as well, that could be one more stumbling block for broad acceptance."

(Market Chatter news is derived from conversations with market professionals globally. This information is believed to be from reliable sources but may include rumor and speculation. Accuracy is not guaranteed.)

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