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Rx Drugs

June 13, 2003 | Daily News

Senate Democrats are planning to attach drug reimportation legislation to the Senate Medicare bill, according to Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who tried the same thing last year. The reimportation legislation will mirror last year's bill.

In the House, Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) this week also introduced a bill to allow individuals, pharmacists and wholesalers in America buy FDA-approved drugs from FDA-approved facilities in industrialized nations. Gutknecht emphasized the importance of controlling the price of pharmaceuticals before taking up Medicare prescription drug benefit.

June 12, 2003 | Daily News

A tightly held Ways and Means Committee summary of the main GOP Medicare reform bill shows that House Republican leaders plan to craft a front-loaded prescription drug benefit to ensure that most seniors will benefit from the plan. The bill also attempts to address concerns pharmacies raised to last year's bill, includes Medicare modernizations, and would revamp the drug reimbursement system.

June 12, 2003 | Daily News

Bipartisan Medicare legislation looks set to pass the Finance Committee at the end of today's long and contentious markup, as senators from both sides of the aisle voiced support for the bill, which cobbles together a prescription drug benefit, a new privately run Medicare option and a host of measures designed to meet specific demands from committee members.

June 12, 2003 | Daily News

Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) June 12 proposed a way to soften the impact of his proposed cuts to physician reimbursements for outpatient drugs, even as a confidential summary of House Medicare legislation shows a plan to use competitive bidding among drug suppliers as a means to bring down reimbursement rates.

June 12, 2003 | Daily News

A group of five Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans that is crafting its own Medicare reform bill will support the main GOP legislation if their plan is put in place as a "transition piece" until 2006 when the GOP Medicare reform bill's drug benefit kicks in, according to a source close to the group. The "rump group's" plan calls for a debit card that combines a medical savings account with a prescription drug card and would also provide immediate catastrophic coverage and low-income protections.

June 12, 2003 | Daily News

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) said Thursday (June 12) he was waiting on the final shape of the Senate Finance Committee's provider package before tipping his hand on what benefits will be included in the Medicare legislation he intends to mark up Tuesday (June 17).

"The longer the Senate debates the more I know in terms of the target I have to deal with," Thomas told reporters June 12.

June 11, 2003 | Daily News

A key Republican player in the House Medicare reform debate today (June 11) said the House GOP Medicare bill would include financial help for rural providers, although the relief may not be as generous as that included in the Senate's Medicare bill. The commitment comes a day after a group of rural House lawmakers upped their campaign for increased reimbursements for rural providers, with some saying they would vote against a Medicare package that falls short on rural assistance.

June 11, 2003 | Daily News

GOP leaders of a key House panel are asking U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft if food and drug law should be changed to give FDA greater power to stop foreign parties from marketing counterfeit drugs in the United States. The Clinton administration's Justice Department had recommended such changes, and the GOP lawmakers now want Ashcroft's view on whether current homeland security concerns heighten the need for the legislative reforms.

June 11, 2003 | Daily News

Senate Democrats will offer amendments at the Finance Committee Medicare markup June 12 that boost prescription drug coverage for seniors with retiree health plans, close the gap in coverage for all beneficiaries and guarantee stable and equal premiums across the country. During floor debate, Democrats hope to attach amendments reforming drug patent law and easing restrictions on drug reimportation.

June 11, 2003 | Daily News

Drug patent reform legislation passed by the Senate health committee June 11 will likely be attached to the Medicare drug benefit bill to be taken up on the Senate floor early next week. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) appears to support the idea, as does Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (SD).

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said she would offer the drug patent reform bill as a floor amendment to the Medicare drug benefit legislation.

June 10, 2003 | Daily News

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) will include in his soon-to-be-unveiled Medicare legislation a government fall-back option if there are not enough private insurers or pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) willing to bear the risk of providing a stand-alone prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries, according to a House aide. The Senate Finance Committee bill to be marked up Thursday (June 12) includes a similar option.

June 10, 2003 | Daily News

The House leadership has agreed on elements of a Medicare drug benefit bill with House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Ways and Means chair Bill Thomas (R-CA), and are hoping to ward off a floor fight with dissident GOP members touting an alternative plan.

A key hurdle facing Republican leaders is how to move the leadership plan through the Energy and Commerce Committee, where an alternative bill touted by five GOP committee members has gained support.

June 10, 2003 | Daily News

Senate Finance Committee members are reworking their Medicare reform bill to try to reduce the gap in prescription drug coverage for beneficiaries after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the legislation at around $360 billion -- well under the $400 billion budget ceiling, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) told Inside CMS June 10.

June 09, 2003 | Daily News

Chain drug stores are seeking to influence, rather than oppose, a Medicare prescription drug plan in the House, following a series of "productive meetings" with key members of the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees, according to a letter sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). Last Congress chain drug stores opposed the House-passed GOP Medicare bill, but now hope lawmakers will include language giving chain drug stores greater leverage under the envisioned drug benefit.

June 09, 2003 | Daily News

Employer groups, including Fortune 500 companies that provide retiree benefits, have been lobbying the Ways and Means Committee to modify its Medicare prescription drug benefit plan to provide greater coverage to their retirees, but have not received assurances of fundamental changes in the structure of the stand-alone drug benefit.

June 06, 2003 | Daily News

The draft Senate Finance Committee Medicare bill scales back the rural physician payment hikes originally proposed by Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and also mitigates the cuts to physician drug reimbursements and rates for durable medical equipment proposed earlier to pay for the rural package.

June 06, 2003 | Daily News

While it has not yet taken a position on the Medicare reform agreement struck by Senate Finance Committee leaders, the Bush administration has concerns with the bipartisan proposal, primarily its plan to offer seniors in traditional Medicare the same drug benefit as those opting into a new private option, a top administration official said June 6. Meantime, several key Democrats are strongly criticizing plans to move ahead with the agreement when many of the proposal's specifics appear unclear.

June 05, 2003 | Daily News

CMS yesterday told House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) that his Medicare reform proposal would lead nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries to switch to private plans, as premiums for those plans are lowered and the government takes up an increased share of plan costs. As a result Medicare costs would increase "significantly," CMA told the lawmaker.

June 05, 2003 | Daily News

A splinter group of House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans has revised its Medicare prescription drug plan to lower its Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score to $380 billion and to allay pharmaceutical manufacturers' complaints that a government-run benefit could lead to price controls on drugs, House aides say. The group has revised the subsidy rates for the catastrophic premiums to lower the plan's overall costs and turned to private insurers for catastrophic coverage to appease drug makers, the aides say.

June 05, 2003 | Daily News

As a GOP splinter group has begun finalizing its Medicare prescription drug proposal, Republican House leaders are leaving it up to the two committees considering radically different proposals to work out their differences.

But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) appears to be moving ahead with his own Medicare plan, leaving it up to Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) to deal with the splinter group, sources said.

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