March 16, 2006 — The Senate on Wednesday endorsed allowing the federal government the power to bargain with pharmaceutical manufacturers for lower costs under the Medicare prescription sedate program.
The vote, which came as part of a budget determination, might flag a critical move in Medicare policy. Medicare law presently expressly forbids the government from arranging prices, and pundits have made reversal of the arrangement a priority since the plan was ordered in early 2004.
While the vote does not however modify Portion D, it does show that officials will likely pass an indistinguishable revision when it comes up afterward this year.
Medicare started offering medicate benefits to seniors on Jan. 1 and has faced several genuine implantation glitches. More than 5 million seniors have intentionally signed up for the program, whereas almost 20 million more got automatic coverage or were shifted from a arrange offered by an manager.
The plan is projected to fetched citizens more than $730 billion over the next decade.
Pundits have strongly criticized the Medicare program because it relies on private insurance companies to offer drug benefits but bars the government from utilizing its tremendous acquiring control to negotiate for lower costs.
“I think they think typically outrageous. Why the hell can’t Medicare negotiate like everyone else?” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a co-sponsor of the measure, told WebMD.
Bush administration officials have maintained that individual insurance companies have succeeded in negotiating lower costs and bringing down average monthly premiums. The plan has also lowered overall costs for person beneficiaries, President Bush said amid a Medicare occasion in Silver Spring, Md., on Wednesday.
“Sedate costs have been cut in half. That’s positive news in case you’re a senior,” he said.
Still, a developing number of legislators have communicated inconvenience with medicate prices, which can vary broadly beneath the arrange.
Forty-nine legislators voted for a comparable degree final year, while 51 backed it in a vote final November. On Wednesday, 54 representatives, including 11 Republicans, voted to bolster government transaction.
“I think they’re cognizant of the taken a toll and the escalating fetched of the Part D program,” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the bill’s primary support, told WebMD following the vote.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) who leads the Finance Committee, said government negotiation would lead to cost controls and that it is pointless.
“This legislation requires negotiation,” said Grassley, alluding to existing haggling on the portion of private protections plans.
Still, the vote could put weight on Bush, who has been working this week to rally support for Part D among doubtful seniors. Numerous have complained that the program is as well complex and offers too many choices for benefits.
Snowe said the vote placed significant pressure on the president to agree to change Medicare approach. “I would think it does, especially with the climate we’re in with implementation of Part D,” she said.