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House Dems Introduce Medicare Drug Bill

By CQ Staff

June 27, 2006 -- House Democrats Tuesday unveiled Medicare prescription drug legislation they said would be simpler, more affordable, and less complicated than current Medicare prescription drug benefits.

Among its provisions, the proposal would require the Medicare program to administer the benefit and negotiate prescription drug prices for all Medicare beneficiaries. The measure also would extend the enrollment deadline for the drug benefit from May 15 to Dec. 31 and close the "doughnut hole" of coverage that requires beneficiaries to cover their drug costs between $2,250 and $5,100, after which point the government picks up 95 percent of drug costs.

"Democrats stand united to provide common-sense improvements to the flawed Bush prescription drug bill," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "We will put seniors and people with disabilities first by bringing affordability, simplicity, and reliability to the benefit."

Administration officials have said the Medicare drug benefit has helped millions of seniors afford prescription drug coverage and the private sector can do a much better job of controlling the overall cost of the benefit.

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