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Rx Drugs

June 18, 2003 | Daily News

Senate Democrats are planning to once again float a proposal to sunset the Medicare drug benefit in a bid to come up with funding to eliminate the gap in prescription drug coverage under the Senate Medicare reform bill. The proposal is one of several amendments Democrats say they intend to offer during the ongoing Senate Medicare floor debate in an attempt to improve the compromise legislation.

June 17, 2003 | Daily News

The "rump group" of five Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans has reached a deal with committee chair Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and will support committee passage of a revised version of the GOP Medicare drug benefit bill, members of the group said. Under the deal, Tauzin will include the group's prescription drug plan -- which includes low-income protections, a drug discount and debit card approach to paying for prescription drugs -- as a transitional element and then a fallback option in the GOP bill, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) told Inside CMS.

June 17, 2003 | Daily News

A key Senator in the generic drug access debate says Congress should change provisions of the Senate's compromise bill that would continue the current practice of lumping patent invalidity and patent non-infringement challenges. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), an author of the 1984 drug patent law and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also is upset that the compromise drug patent reform bill would retain a provision that grants the first company to file a generic drug application 180 days of market exclusivity.

June 16, 2003 | Daily News

Drug and medical device companies may have a better chance of getting product liability protections now that the House is considering attaching its medical malpractice bill to Medicare legislation, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is saying the Republican's medical malpractice proposal would save the Medicare program $15 billion over 10 years, according to a congressional source.

June 13, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare reform legislation appears set for Senate passage following broad approval by the Senate Finance Committee last night, with six Democrats, including the caucus' top member, voting for the package.

The Finance Committee reported out the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act of 2003 virtually unaltered from the amended version presented earlier June 12 by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The bill passed 16-5.

June 13, 2003 | Daily News

When it marked up drug patent reform legislation this week, the Senate health committee failed to take up an unexpected FDA recommendation that lawmakers change current law to state that a court decision would no longer start the 180-day generic drug exclusivity clock. The proposal is one of many "technical corrections" that FDA has suggested senators include in the drug patent reform bill.

June 13, 2003 | Daily News

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) and the largest Medicare beneficiary advocacy group disagree on whether the catastrophic benefit of the House GOP Medicare reform bill constitutes "means testing."

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

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 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 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.

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