Broad outlines for a compromise Medicare prescription drug benefit have been reached, although a number of contentious issues are being worked out, members of a House-Senate conference committee said. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told reporters that the plan would be unveiled in full by tomorrow. According to a draft of the compromise plan, seniors could buy prescription drug coverage for a monthly premium of $35 and a $275 annual deductible. Beneficiaries would have a 25% copayment from $275 to $2,200. Coverage would cease at $2,200 in total drug expenses until a beneficiary's out-of-pocket spending reached $3,600 (equivalent to about $5,000 in total drug expenses). Beneficiaries then would pay a modest copayment, perhaps $5. The committee still was working on an incentive plan to retain employer-sponsored retiree coverage. Also on the table were provider issues, such as aid for rural hospitals and a larger inpatient update. To read more on the status of Medicare discussions, go to modernhealthcare.com.-- by Todd Sloane
Conferees agree on outline of Medicare drug plan
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