A pharmacist and technicians fill prescriptions. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Trump administration says it will try to soften the blow for industry as it prepares to overhaul part of the drug-pricing system — a potential acknowledgement that its plan may happen on time.

Driving the news: Trump has proposed eliminating drug-pricing rebates in Medicare Part D, beginning in 2020. But Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma said in a memo today that insurers and pharmacy benefit managers can assume rebates will still exist as they design their 2020 plans.

Details: The Trump administration is hedging both ways.

  • Companies that sell Medicare drug plans can assume rebates will exist in 2020, contrary to the proposed rule.
  • However, if the rule to eliminate back-end rebates does go into effect that year, Medicare and taxpayers will cover 95% of a company's losses through a "demonstration" program to account for the abrupt change, according to Verma's memo.
  • That demonstration also would exist for 2021 Medicare drug plans.

The bottom line: The rule would be a massive structural overhaul to the way drug companies, insurers and PBMs negotiate drug prices. Whether the administration formally delays that change or not, it's giving the industry time to adjust to a new business model.

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Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 32,595,105 — Total deaths: 989,663 — Total recoveries: 22,508,651Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 7,034,432 — Total deaths: 203,789 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.