Congressmen want vote on drug benefit revision bill

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Congressmen are pressing their leaders for a vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the prescription drug benefit.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week sent a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), asking him to schedule a vote on the measure that would allow Medicare to deal directly with pharmaceutical companies for prescription drug discounts. The bill would allow Medicare to resolve the "doughnut hole," under which beneficiaries pay all of their drug costs between $2,250 and $5,100.

Legislators are pushing for votes on certain issues before the annual August recess. Currently, prescription drug plans negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical companies. A provision in the 2003 Medicare law prohibits the government from directly negotiating drug prices.