January 12, 2007
Bush would veto drug price bill
President Bush threatened on Thursday to veto legislation that would require the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to obtain lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, The New York Times reported. The House of Representatives was scheduled to consider a proposal on the issue Friday. “Government interference impedes competition, limits access to life-saving drugs, reduces convenience for beneficiaries and ultimately increases costs to taxpayers, beneficiaries and all American citizens alike,” the White House said in a written statement on the House bill. Chances for the passage of some version of the legislation may have increased when Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said that Congress should repeal the provision of the 2003 Medicare law that prohibits drug price negotiations, The Times reported. Baucus said he believed Medicare should be able to negotiate prices in “discrete areas where seniors need our help the most.” Baucus is reportedly seeking middle ground between Republicans, who strongly support the existing ban on federal price negotiations, and House Democratic leaders, who want to require the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices that may be charged for most drugs covered by Medicare.