Democrat-aligned media figures and pollsters have speculated that President Donald Trump lost substantial support among seniors due to the way his administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
The president is reportedly on the verge of announcing a huge initiative that has the potential to stop or even reverse his loss of support among seniors, namely a rule change allowing Medicare and Medicaid to cover the costs of a COVID-19 vaccine so that it can be provided to seniors free of charge, the New York Post reported.
That announcement is expected to come Tuesday or Wednesday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is centered on a change in the rules regarding the coverage of costs for vaccines and other drugs that have received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Rule change to be announced this week
Politico was the first to report on the coming announcement of the rule change regarding the cost of COVID-19 vaccines for seniors being covered by Medicare and Medicaid, per four unnamed sources said to have “knowledge of the pending announcement.”
Congress had previously attempted to mandate that the federal government would cover the costs of any eventual vaccines for the coronavirus but failed to due so. Current rules for Medicare and Medicaid prohibit coverage of vaccines or other drugs that have received an emergency use authorization but have not yet been formally and fully approved by the FDA.
Changing that rule would require more than just an executive order from President Donald Trump, hence an effort by the Department of Health and Human Services and CMS to make a formal change to the rule.
Politico noted that CMS Administrator Seema Verma hinted at the coming announcement of the rule change during a virtual conference on Oct. 13. “It was very clear that Congress wants to make sure that Medicare beneficiaries have this vaccine and that there isn’t any cost-sharing,” she said, adding, “And so, stay tuned, you’ll see more from the agency on this very shortly.”
COVID vaccines and treatment to be covered
With the rule apparently having been changed, CMS will cover the costs of any COVID-19 vaccines for seniors that have been granted an emergency use authorization.
Thus far, at least two of the several competing vaccine developers have announced intentions to apply for such emergency authorization before the year is over.
According to one unnamed official cited by Politico, the administration has been “working to ensure that no American has to pay for the vaccine.”
Furthermore, two of the sources told the outlet that, beyond just the costs of vaccines, the new rule will also provide more flexibility to Medicare and Medicaid recipients with regard to the coverage of costs for other COVID-related expenses like treatments and care.
Neither CMS nor the administration more broadly responded to requests for comment or explained how the costs of vaccines and other expenses for the roughly 120 million Americans enrolled in those programs would be paid for.