Rx DRUG COSTS: Committee Reviews ‘Revised’ Roth Plan
Senate Finance Committee members today will review a new version of Committee Chair William Roth's (R-Del.) Medicare prescription drug benefit plan, which congressional aides said moves Roth's proposal closer to the "private-sector" plan offered by committee members John Breaux (D-La.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), CongressDaily/A.M. reports. Under the Breaux-Frist plan, the federal government would subsidize private prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries either through "drug only" plans for seniors in Medicare's fee-for-service program or through Medicare managed care plans. Seniors would pay a $250 yearly deductible, half of the first $2,150 worth of medications and no costs beyond $6,000. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Breaux-Frist plan would cost $39.5 billion over five years and that 85% of beneficiaries that would be eligible for the program would enroll. In a letter to Roth, Breaux and Frist wrote, "Clearly, CBO could not assume an 85% enrollment rate without also assuming that private sector participation would materialize. ... We believe this is a critical point since it refutes the idea that a one-size-fits-all, government-run, fee-for-service option is the only way to achieve meaningful participation in a new prescription drug program." CongressDaily/A.M. reports that while Roth had hoped to have cost estimates of his proposal before Congress recesses in August, the revised version now will be submitted to the CBO (Fulton/Rovner, 7/27).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.