System Sees Rise in Medicare Drug Prices, Profits

As debate continues over whether the U.S. government should negotiate directly with drug makers over Medicare drug prices, we measure how well Americans have been served by the market so far.

Medicare drug prices and premiums have gone up during the first year of the benefit, as have profits for drug companies and insurers. The new Democratic majority in Congress has promised to enable the government to negotiate Medicare drug prices with manufacturers.

Currently, the law expressly forbids the government to do that. President Bush says he would veto the change, because, he says, competition among private insurers lowers drug prices more effectively than government negotiation could.

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