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Medicare

November 23, 2003 | Daily News

The House of Representatives approved a plan to reform Medicare and give seniors prescription drug coverage Saturday (Nov. 22), finally securing a GOP victory after a marathon roll call vote that initially looked set to deliver Democrats a major political upset.

Shortly before 6a.m. - almost three hours after the vote began - Republicans finally clinched enough votes to pass the predominantly GOP-crafted drug bill, 220 to 215. House Democrats condemned the result, which came after they led the vote tally by 218 to 216 for over an hour.

November 21, 2003 | Daily News

As proponents of Medicare drug legislation work to shore-up enough votes for passage, AARP -- one of the legislation's key backers -- has denied a suggestion by top Democrats that it has a financial conflict of interest in the landmark drug bill.

November 20, 2003 | Daily News

GOP leaders brought former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the House Republican Conference Wednesday (Nov. 19) to try to convince House conservatives to vote for the Medicare conference report as Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) indicated that support for the bill among the party's right wing was tenuous.

Thomas told reporters that he is "concerned that they will vote against the bill because they are uninformed" about how fiscally conservative it actually is and that "it's my job to inform them."

November 20, 2003 | Daily News

House Democrats, worried that the Republican majority would renege on its promise to allow members three full calendar days to inspect the Medicare conference report before its consideration, issued a letter to the House Rules Committee demanding more time to inspect the bill.

November 20, 2003 | Daily News

Congress took a step closer to giving Medicare beneficiaries long-awaited prescription drug coverage today (Nov. 20), unveiling a $395 billion legislative blueprint hammered out by House and Senate negotiators that now heads to the House floor for an expected partisan vote battle.

November 20, 2003 | Daily News

The drug reimportation provisions of the Medicare conference report are subject to possible change but conferees appeared unlikely to remove a requirement for HHS certification before reimportation is allowed, according to Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

"It is under discussion," Grassley told reporters Nov. 19, but added that it was doubtful conferees would lift the certification requirement despite its potential to win key votes for the Medicare bill in the House.

November 19, 2003 | Daily News

Rep. John Carter (R-TX) on Tuesday (Nov. 18) became the first of the so-called "Toomey 13" to publicly announce his support for the Medicare conference report and said that other conservative Republicans would follow.

The group of 13 House GOP conservatives, led by Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA), voted for the House bill in June but signed a letter in September threatening to vote against a conference report that lacks certain fiscally conservative provisions that were in the House bill.

November 19, 2003 | Daily News

Lawmakers of both parties and even HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson courted the House Blue Dog coalition Tuesday (Nov. 18) to support the Medicare bill, signaling the GOP's need for bipartisan backing as support from House conservative Republicans weakens.

Nine members of the moderate-to-conservative House Democratic group crossed party lines to secure passage of the House bill in June as the only members to defy the minority leadership. The coalition's potential for cross-over votes that could mitigate conservative GOP defections make it very valuable as a final vote draws nearer.

November 19, 2003 | Daily News

Top congressional Democrats are demanding answers from AARP about why it decided to support the tentative Medicare agreement hammered out by congressional conferees, and 85 Democratic members or prospective members of the seniors group made a strong political statement by announcing yesterday they would resign from or not join AARP.

November 19, 2003 | Daily News

An influential House conservative this week came out against the Medicare conference report and urged fellow Republicans to vote down a bill that lacks comprehensive market reforms and a means to contain the program's growing costs.

Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who in September led an effort by 13 conservative Republicans to push for fiscally conservative provisions in the bill, said in a Nov. 18 statement that the conference report "falls short of needed reforms."

November 19, 2003 | Daily News

The likelihood of a Democratic filibuster on Medicare legislation appears to be faltering, with key Senate Democrats downplaying the possibility and the chamber's minority leader acknowledging some of his caucus now appears to be backing the GOP-based bill.

November 19, 2003 | Daily News

House Democratic leaders, with the backing of allied seniors groups and labor unions, are whipping up opposition to the Medicare prescription drug bill, seeking to minimize defections by conservative Democrats working to discredit the bill's endorsement by AARP.

Democrats and their allies are focusing on the premium support demonstration, arguing that competition between private plans and traditional Medicare will lead to the privatization of the government program.

November 18, 2003 | Daily News

House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) is counting on the AARP's endorsement of the Medicare conference report to draw new Democratic support as doubts rise over whether GOP leaders can maintain the one-vote margin they secured on the original House bill vote in June.

November 18, 2003 | Daily News

Congressional staffers have gotten over the last major hurdle of the drug-patent reform section in the Medicare bill by agreeing to report language on the declaratory judgment provision, according to congressional and industry sources. At issue was the constitutional standard for when a generic drug company could bring a declaratory judgment action to get a troublesome patent out of the way.

November 17, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees reached agreement on a premium support demonstration program over the weekend, wrapping up the most controversial issue in the prescription drug bill. The deal received the endorsement of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), as well as general support from AARP and physician and hospital groups. But conservative House GOP members and other Senate Democrats were critical of the compromise.

November 17, 2003 | Daily News

The Medicare conference agreement struck over the weekend leaves open the exact amount oncologists will be reimbursed for outpatient drugs and how much their practice expense payments will be raised to compensate for the cuts to the average wholesale price (AWP) reimbursement scheme.

The summary

November 17, 2003 | Daily News

In a politically momentous move, AARP has officially declared its support for the tentative Medicare agreement hammered out by conferees, simultaneously handing proponents of the legislation much-needed leverage and reversing its recent track record of non-committal stances on Medicare legislation. The endorsement, however, has drawn both criticism and praise from opposing sides of the aisles.

November 14, 2003 | Daily News

Democrats yesterday (Nov. 13) criticized the AARP for its acceptance of a demonstration program as a compromise on the controversial premium support issue and rallied other seniors groups to the Capitol to show their continued opposition to any version of it.

At the event, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said, "This is not a pilot program. This is a nationwide plan affecting a quarter of American seniors and…could be the beginning of the end of Medicare."

November 13, 2003 | Daily News

Congressional leadership has gone over the heads of Medicare conferees and forged a compromise that could bring support from moderate Senate Democrats, Tom Grissom, director of the Center for Medicare Management at CMS, said today (Nov. 13).

"Republican leadership of both the House and Senate have taken away the bill from the members of the conference committee," Grissom said at a drug industry conference.

November 13, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees, including House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA), are set to resume negotiations on a prescription drug bill today (Nov. 13). Conferees also met last night, according to a source, just hours after a spokesperson for Thomas said he was flying home to California (see related story). Thomas' aborted walkout followed news that GOP congressional leaders had hashed out a compromise deal with the conference's only two Democrats.

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