Seniors have cited many problems with Medicare drug plans. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may hire a contractor to track whether the companies that sell Medicare prescription drug plans are doing a good enough job, according to a document that outlines potential contractor tasks.

Between the lines: Many Medicare drug plans have been reprimanded for some serious violations, and CMS wants to figure out what's going on. Seniors and disabled people who buy the plans often complain about bad service and inappropriate denials of drug coverage.

The details: There's no guarantee CMS will hire a contractor, but the agency is testing the waters to see if an outside company can help determine "whether the Part D formulary and benefit offerings are being administered as approved" by law.

Why now: A handful of Medicare Part D companies have faced federal penalties for lousy compliance.

  • CMS barred Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield from enrolling people in its 2018 Part D plans because the insurance company was profiting excessively. An Arkansas Blues spokesperson said the insurer is working on ways to make its Part D plans "more competitive by lowering premiums and reviewing benefits."
  • WellCare Health Plans was slapped with a $1.2 million fine earlier this year for a host of Part D violations, including unjustified denials of some members' drugs and an inadequate process to handle members' appeals.
  • UnitedHealthcare faced a $2.5 million fine in 2016 after the federal government discovered the insurer's Medicare drug lists were riddled with improper requirements that denied drug access.

Context: Taxpayers funneled $95 billion toward Medicare Part D plans in 2016. That's roughly 12 times the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Bryan Walsh, author of Future
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The Rockefeller Foundation announced on Monday that it will allocate $1 billion over the next three years to address the pandemic and its aftermath.

Why it matters: The mishandled pandemic and the effects of climate change threaten to reverse global progress and push more than 100 million people into poverty around the world. Governments and big NGOs need to ensure that the COVID-19 recovery reaches everyone who needs it.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Italy tightens restrictions Spain declares new state of emergency.
  4. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure

Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine in COVID-19 precaution

A political display is posted on the outside of the Fox News headquarters on 6th Avenue in New York City in July. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Fox News President Jay Wallace and anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum are among those recommended to get tested and quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19, the New York Times first reported Sunday night.

The big picture: The Fox News contingent, which also included "The Five" show hosts Juan Williams and Dana Perino, were on a charter flight from Nashville to New York following Thursday's presidential debate with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus.