Baucus Wants All $300B Spent on Medicare Rx Drug Benefit
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Friday that the $300 billion allocated by Congress over the next decade for Medicare reform "must be used solely to provide a prescription drug benefit" and not for broad-based changes to the program, the AP/Detroit News reports. In an interview with the Associated Press, Baucus said that enacting a prescription drug plan is his "top priority," adding, "If we don't by the end of this year, there's no guarantee we'll have $300 billion next year with the budget squeezes." While a group of moderate senators on the Finance Committee last week introduced a plan to provide a drug benefit along with broader reforms, Baucus rejected the proposal. "Benefits are going to drive this," he said Friday. Baucus also said that the $52 monthly premium proposed in one benefit plan would be too high. "We know we have to get the premium down, otherwise people won't buy in," he said (Carter, AP/Detroit News, 8/4).