The Medicare drug benefit and other elements of the new Medicare reform law are expected to cost the federal government $134 billion more than previously estimated over the 10-year life of the law, according to the Bush administration. Instead of the $400 billion budgeted for reform measures, the drug benefit and associated program changes will cost Medicare $534 billion, the White House Office of Management and Budget confirmed. "This is not an unexpected variance, but it's obviously a pretty large variance," said Edwin Park, senior health policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. President Bush's proposed 2005 budget, due to Congress next week, will reflect the new cost estimate, sources said. News of the Medicare reform law's growing price tag comes as another new estimate puts this year's federal deficit at $520 billion. -- by Jeff Tieman and Tony Fong
Add $134 billion to Medicare reform's expected cost
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