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Senate blocks legislation allowing government to negotiate drug pricing

[JURIST] The US Senate voted Wednesday against a motion to advance legislation that would permit the Department of Health and Human Services [official website] or another federal government entity to intervene in Medicare [JURIST news archive] drug pricing negotiations between drug makers and private insurance plans on behalf of the nation's elderly and disabled beneficiaries. The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act [S. 3 materials] passed [JURIST report] the Senate Committee on Finance [official website] last week, but President Bush said Tuesday that he would veto the measure [PDF policy statement]. The motion to invoke cloture [Senate backgrounder] failed by a margin of 55-42 [roll call].

Democratic proponents of the legislation argued that government involvement in drug pricing negotiations would result in lower health care costs for the elderly and taxpayers. Republicans countered that the Medicare program is already achieving lower-than-expected drug costs for seniors through the use of private insurance companies and government intervention would result in a disruptive "takeover" of the price negotiation process. AP has more.

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