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Even as prescription drug costs remain an important pocketbook issue for many Americans, the Trump administration has taken a new step that will likely raise expenses for many patients, a move that consumer advocates find upsetting and puzzling.

As part of a final rule setting standards for health benefits, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will allow private insurers and employers to exclude certain copay assistance programs, such as cards and coupons provided by drug makers, from counting toward deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. The decision applies even when there is no generic alternative to a pricey, brand-name drug.


As a result, consumers will have to pay more for their medicines, since a growing number of people rely on the programs offered by the pharmaceutical industry, according to dozens of patient organizations that had opposed the rule. They also complained that the rule amounts to a double whammy, since so many Americans lost jobs and health coverage due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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