The House passes a bill that would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug makers for lower prices for Medicare patients. The vote was 255-170 in favor of the bill, including some two dozen Republicans. Those supporting the measure ignored a veto threat from President Bush.
The administration contends that government price negotiations — which are currently barred by law — would ultimately threaten the availability of drugs for seniors, and could raise, rather than lower, prices. But polls have shown the public is strongly behind the idea of government negotiation.
And this week, a key Democratic backer of the existing Medicare drug program, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, said he now supports eliminating the ban on government negotiation.