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Maine Gets HCFA Waiver for Drug Discount Program

The Health Care Financing Administration has given Maine officials clearance to offer a discount prescription program to 200,000 people without a pharmacy benefit. The program was developed after the pharmaceutical industry won a court injunction suspending Maine's new law requiring the state to negotiate rebates and discounts for all uninsured residents.

The latest program, modeled on one in Vermont, would apply to individuals and families that earn up to 300 percent of poverty but do not qualify for Medicaid. HCFA granted the state a waiver to allow it to offer prescription products at a price equivalent to what its Medicaid program pays — in essence, a discount of 25 percent. The Vermont law has withstood a federal court challenge from the pharmaceutical industry.

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