By Reuters, 9/7/2001
WASHINGTON - A federal judge yesterday temporarily barred the US government from carrying out President Bush's program to provide discount cards for seniors to buy prescriptions.
US District Judge Paul Friedman granted a request from the National Association of Chain Drugstores for a preliminary injunction halting the program that Bush announced several months ago.
The judge found that the US Department of Health and Human Services did not have legal authority for the program, that a notice-and-comment period is required, and that the drugstores would suffer ''irreparable harm'' if the program went forward.
In July, Bush announced plan with great fanfare a plan to provide seniors with discount cards for prescriptions, saying that congressional approval was not needed.
The plan was for seniors to pay about $25 for the cards and for companies managing the plan to negotiate lower prices.
Trade groups, including the National Association of Chain Drugstores, accused the Bush administration of consulting privately with pharmacy benefit managers, rather than lawmakers and affected parties, to create the discount card plan.
The trade group's lawsuit is being watched closely, because Medicare provides health coverage for approximately 40 million senior citizens.
The lawsuit was filed by trade groups representing 55,000 pharmacies and 130,000 pharmacists.
This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 9/7/2001.