Senate Democrats propose a bill to fix prescription drug benefit

Share this content:

Last week Senate Democrats floated a proposed bill that would change the new Medicare prescription drug benefit to allow Medicare beneficiaries to obtain drug coverage directly from Medicare itself.

Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) say the measure also would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Kennedy calls the current Medicare drug plan a "nightmare." He would like to prevent beneficiaries from being denied the medications they need and eliminate high out of pocket costs some beneficiaries have experienced in the first few months of the benefit.

At the same time, Congressional Republicans and Democrats continued their review of the first two months of the new drug benefit. During a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee meeting, CMS Administrator Mark McClellan testified that enrollment in the drug benefit is "off to a strong start," with a reported 25 million enrollees.