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Rx Drugs

August 06, 2003 | Daily News

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts the Senate Medicare bill will channel a third of Medicare beneficiaries into drug coverage from a government contractor that has less incentive to control drug costs, but says the Senate plan provides more tools for drug plans to control costs than the House counterpart.

The CBO projection of high participation rates in fallback plans is based on its view that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) will opt to provide the fallback drug benefit as long as that is an attractive option under the legislation.

August 06, 2003 | Daily News

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is urging Medicare conferees to adopt the Senate bill's more generous hospital reimbursement formula for new drugs and biologicals as well as its prohibition against denial of increased reimbursement for new drugs that are "functionally equivalent" to existing treatments.

August 05, 2003 | Daily News

FDA sought and received assurances from the Department of Justice that phone calls agency officials made to House lawmakers just hours before the chamber passed drug reimportation legislation were legal, agency sources say. Some lawmakers complained both prior to and following the vote that FDA's tactics to dissuade lawmakers from supporting the bill were "unprecedented" and possibly illegal.

August 05, 2003 | Daily News

A former Federal Trade Commission official and prominent critic of pharmacy benefit managers is taking issue with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment that pricing transparency provisions in the Senate Medicare bill will discourage rebates on pharmaceuticals and add $40 billion on to the new drug benefit, arguing that more transparency will instead increase competition for better prices.

August 04, 2003 | Daily News

A coalition of major corporations with retiree health plans is urging Medicare conferees to adopt the more generous subsidy for employer-sponsored retiree drug coverage under the Senate bill, but must overcome a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finding that the bill would provide a 50 percent subsidy instead of the 70 percent payout projected by employer groups.

August 01, 2003 | Daily News

As Medicare conferees gear up to negotiate a compromise drug patent reform plan, the Justice Department Aug. 1 charged that a key element of the Senate plan is unconstitutional. The last-minute move against the Senate's "declaratory judgment" prompted an outcry from the bill's author Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who vowed that he would not stand by to watch the bill watered down during the Medicare conference.

July 31, 2003 | Daily News

An analysis by Joint Economic Committee Democrats claims changes to Medicare deductibles and premiums under the House GOP Medicare bill will more than eat up seniors' cost-of-living increases under Social Security.

The July 30 paper paints the premium increases under the House bill's premium support provision in a bad light in part by comparing multiple years of projected increases in seniors' Medicare payments against one year's Social Security cost of living increase (COLA).

July 31, 2003 | Daily News

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) plans to bring key administration officials before his committeee today (Aug. 1) to discuss the generic drug reform provisions in the House and Senate Medicare bills as conferees prepare to negotiate a compromise. Hatch, who coauthored the original drug patent law, may quiz FDA, Justice Department, Patent Trademark Office and Federal Trade Commission officials about the declaratory judgment scheme in the Senate bill. Hatch has suggested the provision may be unconstitutional.

July 31, 2003 | Daily News

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts the House Medicare bill's controversial premium support plan would save the government only $700 million from 2010 to 2013, with the bulk of those savings coming from higher beneficiary premiums for private plans and little coming from a slight shift of beneficiaries to cheaper HMOs.

July 28, 2003 | Daily News

From weight loss management to money for Hawaii's Medicaid program, a slew of Medicare odds and ends that gained last-minute passage in the Senate Medicare plan must now be addressed by conferees hammering out a final Medicare reform bill.

July 28, 2003 | Daily News

In a major policy shift, the nation's largest seniors organization is willing to support legislation allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to reimport prescription drugs from Canada, without broad HHS certification, an AARP official told Inside CMS. The group's position may provide middle ground for Medicare conferees, who must decide whether to maintain the "poison pill" provision in the House and Senate Medicare bills or go along with a newly passed House bill allowing reimportation from 25 countries without HHS certification.

July 25, 2003 | Daily News

The House vote easing restrictions on pharmaceutical reimportation may force Medicare conferees to reach compromise solution that accommodates safety concerns, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters July 25, even as Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), a Medicare conferee, said he remains opposed to the measure.

July 24, 2003 | Daily News

In the latest missive on Medicare reform legislation, a group of centrist Senate Democrats and House Blue Dogs have teamed up to urge congressional leaders to forge a conference report adopting key elements of the Senate-passed plan in order to gain strong bipartisan backing rather than a slim majority. The lawmakers repeat previous Democratic calls for the retention of the Senate government fallback option and added low-income protections, among other demands.

July 23, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare legislation passed by the House and Senate last month both cost more than the allotted $400 billion budget mark, new cost estimates reveal, worsening the headache for Medicare conferees tasked with melding the competing bills. Tagged at $461 billion over 10 years, the Senate score was boosted in large part by a lone $40 billion pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) disclosure provision -- casting serious doubt over the amendment's future.

July 22, 2003 | Daily News

Seeking higher Medicare reimbursement rates, a key patient advocacy group is urging Congress to add language to the Medicare conference report to exclude rare disease therapies from Medicare's hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS). The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) says the policy change would help ensure patient access to such products -- access it contends is restricted under Medicare's current hospital outpatient system.

July 22, 2003 | Daily News

The chairmen of three key committees involved in the debate over medicare reform have pledged to hold Congress' final reform bill within the $400 billion target.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said July 22 that the House and Senate Medicare reform bills would exceed the near half-trillion-dollar mark.

July 21, 2003 | Daily News

The House is slated to vote on Rep. Gil Gutknecht's (R-MN) reimportation bill late Wednesday or Thursday, a congressional source says. The source says Gutknecht would not oppose an amendment that would limit prescription drug reimportation to drugs from Canada.

Last week congressional sources had said that Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), a cosponsor of Gutknecht's bill, might try to limit the bill to Canada. The source did not know if Emerson plans to file any amendments to the reimportation bill.

July 18, 2003 | Daily News

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is floating the possibility of including tax incentives to maintain employer drug coverage in the Medicare conference report. Employers already secured last-minute changes to the Senate bill that facilitate their ability to provide retiree coverage through private Medicare plans.

July 17, 2003 | Daily News

New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania lawmakers combined to obtain federal funding for their states' elderly prescription drug plans in the Senate Medicare legislation, and, along with House members from New York, are pushing to keep the provision intact in conference, where it faces opposition from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA).

July 16, 2003 | Daily News

Conservative House Republicans are strongly criticizing a pro-life group for running an ad campaign against legislation allowing reimportation and one senior GOP lawmaker accused the pharmaceutical industry of funding the campaign and manipulating the pro-life group into making the bill an abortion issue.