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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is backing off a controversial proposal to chip away at existing safeguards that require Medicare to cover all drugs for conditions like depression and AIDS.

The initial proposal, which would have allowed private Medicare plans to refuse to pay for certain drugs for chronic conditions that spiked in price, was met with widespread criticism almost as soon as it was proposed last November. The Trump administration had suggested the change would help lower drug prices by giving private Medicare plans more leverage over high-cost drugs. But patient advocates and drug makers said it would jeopardize patient care in life-threatening situations.

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