House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said there are not yet enough votes in the chamber to pass the Medicare prescription drug and reform bill under consideration there. "Democrats will fight to defeat this Republican bill," Pelosi said at a rally organized by the Alliance for Retired Americans. The House and Senate are both expected to vote on Medicare reform bills by the end of the week. At deadline, Republican leadership could not be reached for comment on whether the House bill has enough votes to pass. In the Senate, meanwhile, a group of Democrats introduced an alternative Medicare reform proposal to be offered as an amendment to the Senate bill. As part of the alternative plan, Medicare would negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, a strategy now employed by the Veterans Affairs Department and other government agencies. Amendment author Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said negotiations would lower drug prices, allowing Medicare to provide continuous coverage of prescription-drug costs instead of establishing a "coverage gap" during which enrollees are solely responsible for expenses, a feature of other bills. Over four years starting in 2006, Durbin's plan would cost $400 billion. The same amount is allotted over a 10-year period in the existing House and Senate bills. -- by Jeff Tieman
Pelosi: Reform bill may not pass House
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