Medicare beneficiaries would receive better drug coverage and a portion of President Barack Obama's healthcare legislation would be paid for under an emerging agreement involving the pharmaceutical industry, the White House and key lawmakers.
Several officials said Friday night that agreement on the $80 billion deal was close, and one said it had been sealed.
Any agreement would mark a major triumph for Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as well as the administration. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has been negotiating with numerous industry groups for weeks as he tries to draft legislation that meets Obama's goal of vastly expanding health coverage, has bipartisan support and does not add to the deficit.
Officials said the 10-year proposal under discussion would have drug companies pay as much as half of the cost of brand-name drugs for lower and middle-income seniors in the so-called doughnut hole.