In the wake of Senate passage of the Medicare reform bill last week, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) has introduced legislation to correct what he calls "flaws" in the bill and to restore provisions that would reduce prescription drug costs.
"Our goal should be to make prescription drugs more affordable and strengthen the integrity of the Medicare program on which so many seniors rely," Daschle says in a written statement Nov. 25. "Regrettably, the Medicare reform bill passed by the Senate today does neither."
Daschle's bill, called the Medicare Preservation and Drug Price Fairness Act (S 1974), allows Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry for lower drug prices, which is prohibited by language in the legislation passed by Congress.
His bill also repeals the new health savings accounts included in the Medicare conference report and repeals the demonstration projects in which Medicare would compete with private health plans in selected markets. A guaranteed Medicare fallback drug plan would be ensured in areas with fewer than two stand-alone drug plans available.
The bill would permit reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from industrialized countries and calls for the incorporation of counterfeit-resistant technology and drug packaging standards.
"I predict the call to repair this legislation will be so loud that Congress will be compelled to act," Daschle says.