At least the third bill aimed at reforming the Medicare reform law was introduced today by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The bill would give HHS authority to negotiate with drugmakers through Medicare for lower prices, a process not allowed under the Medicare reform legislation that became law late last year. "This is not price controls," Wyden said at a news conference. "This is about negotiating power." The senators argued that the Veterans Affairs Department and the Defense Department have saved money for their beneficiaries by negotiating with drugmakers. The bill also would eliminate barriers to reimporting drugs from Canada or other countries and would require the General Accounting Office to monitor prescription drug price increases. Snowe and Wyden are following in the footsteps of Democrat lawmakers. In December 2003, soon after the Medicare law was signed, Sens. Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson, both Democrats from South Dakota, introduced a bill that also would allow HHS to negotiate for lower drug prices. Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) followed with similar legislation in January. -- by Jeff Tieman
Push continues to revise Medicare reform law
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