Lawmakers to introduce Medicare Part D bill today

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Democrats in the House today are expected to introduce a bill that would allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies on prices for medications under the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

House Democrats have promised to pass this legislation within the first 100 hours of the new Congress, which began on Thursday. Another bill to be introduced today would reduce restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The Department of Health and Human Services currently negotiates Part D drug prices with private insurers. The 2003 Medicare law prohibits the government from interfering in those negotiations and stipulates that Medicare cannot establish a list of preferred drugs. Many Democrats want to repeal the ban on price negotiations.