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Court Pulls Plug on Maine's Drug Plan for Low-Income Residents
- December 26th, 2002
The United States Court of Appeals has struck down an innovative Maine program that was making prescription drugs more affordable for low-income people, according to an article in The New York Times.
Under the program, approved by the federal government nearly two years ago, Maine gives a discount on drug purchases to a specified category of people who would normally not be eligible for Medicaid assistance. The program, called Healthy Maine Prescriptions, is available to people with incomes less than three times the federal poverty level'”up to $43,890 a year for a family of three. The program forces drug makers to give discounts of 18 percent to 25 percent on prescriptions, similar to the discounts drug companies give states under Medicaid.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the main trade association for brand-name drug companies, filed a lawsuit against the program. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled December 24 that the Maine program was not permissible because the drug companies bore almost all the cost.
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said: "Today''s ruling is extremely disappointing. The Healthy Maine program has helped more than 200,000 Maine citizens afford their prescription drugs."
At least a dozen other states have been considering programs similar to the one in Maine.
The drug industry is also challenging a separate program, Maine Rx, which is open to all state residents, not just those with low incomes. (See ElderLawAnswers news article, 'Legal Victory for Maine's Affordable Drug Plan,' The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear argument in that case on January 22.
For the full New York Times article, click here. (Article may be only temporarily available.)
To read the full text of the appeals court decision, click here.
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