House Democrats Urge Reimportation Provision in Final Medicare Bill
More than 140 House Democrats have sent a letter to Republican members of the conference committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate Medicare bills (HR 1 and S 1) urging them to include in a final bill the House-passed provision that would allow the reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from Canada and other industrialized nations, CongressDaily reports. The letter, circulated by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), states, "We cannot ask taxpayers to assume a $400 billion burden without taking steps to ensure that they are getting a good return on their investment," adding, "Providing access to international markets is certain to provide the type of price competition that will significantly bring down prices and save money for consumers, businesses, and, in the case of a Medicare drug benefit, allow the federal government to provide a more substantial benefit while using fewer government and taxpayer resources." In June, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) cast the deciding vote on the House Medicare bill in exchange for a promise from House leaders to vote on a reimportation bill (HR 2427) that, if passed, would then become the House's position in the Medicare conference committee (Rovner, CongressDaily, 9/22). In July, the House voted 243-186 to pass HR 2427 (California Healthline, 9/17). The Democrats' letter states that the House-passed bill would include "comprehensive safety precautions which would, through the use of counterfeit resistant technology, actually improve the safety of the drug supply in this county," adding that such a provision would eliminate the need for the language that would allow the FDA to nullify the program. FDA officials have said they oppose the House legislation and that the anti-counterfeiting technology called for in the bill would be prohibitively expensive. Medicare conferees have not yet begun discussions on the reimportation issue, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 9/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.