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Battle Brewing Over Medicare Drug Discounts


Aired 4/19/09

California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi says she’ll push legislation that would require the federal government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices. The incoming House Speaker says Medicare recipients deserve to benefit from the government’s purchasing power. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

Federal law prohibits Medicare officials from negotiating discounts with drug makers. Congresswoman Pelosi says changing that law will be one of the Democrats’ top priorities when they take power next month.

The Bush administration opposes the move. But Gary Passmore, with the Congress of California Seniors, doesn’t see what’s wrong with it.     

Passmore: “The Veterans administration does it for all the people who get their health benefits through the VA, and their costs are, across the board for drug by drug, much lower than they are under these new Medicare plans.”

Supporters estimate allowing the Medicare program to negotiate prices could save the government up to $25 billion a year. Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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