Spending on Medicare Part D program rises by $41 billion, CBO says

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The cost of the new Medicare Part D program continues to rise, according to a new projection by the Congressional Budget Office.

CBO added $41 billion to its initial 2003 cost estimate, it said in a letter sent to lawmakers on March 4. While it originally estimated that the net cost of the Part D program would be $552 billion between 2004 and 2013, it revised this projection to $593 billion.

Total Part D costs are now projected at $851 billion between 2004 and 2015. CBO predicts that the program will cost $258 billion for the last two years.

The major factor in the $41 billion increase was $17 billion attributed to revisions in the cost of the drug benefit's low-income subsidy and transitional drug assistance. CBO sent its letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), John D. Dingell (D-MI), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William M. Thomas (R-CA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

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