Senate Democrats, Republicans May Introduce New Medicare Rx Drug Benefit Bills in October
Democratic and Republican Senate leaders may introduce new Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation in October, when a bill would require a simple majority of votes for passage, Roll Call reports. In July, the Senate defeated four competing prescription drug benefit bills that would have cost more than the Senate appropriated for a prescription drug benefit in the fiscal year 2002 budget resolution and, as a result, required 60 votes for passage. However, the 2003 fiscal year, for which the Senate has not passed a budget resolution, begins Oct. 1, and prescription drug benefit legislation considered after that time would require only 51 votes for passage. Although neither party has announced a proposal, Democrats may introduce a bill before the November elections to "force Republicans to vote on the ... issue," a Democratic aide said, adding that "either a bill passes and Democrats claim credit for the success or it fails and they paint Republicans as obstructionists," Roll Call reports. An unnamed GOP source predicted that the legislation would receive support from a number of Republicans, "particularly those who are up for re-election." Republicans also may propose a prescription drug benefit bill in October to "counter" Democratic legislation and "inoculate themselves from charges that they are denying seniors affordable drug coverage," Roll Call reports (Preston, Roll Call, 8/12).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.