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White House Confirms Veto Threat On Medicare Drug Bill January 11, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Politics, US News, White House.

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The White House confirmed Thursday that U.S. President George W. Bush would veto a House bill requiring the government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices under Medicare.

“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 4, which would not only repeal the prohibition against the Federal government interfering in negotiations between Part D plans, pharmacies, and drug companies for lower Part D drug prices, but would require that the Federal government negotiate directly with drug companies,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a Statement of Administration Policy.

“If H.R. 4 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.”

The veto threat was first reported by the Associated Press, which cited Republican officials.

The House is expected to vote Friday on the bill, which is part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top agenda items for the Democrats’ first 100 hours in power.

The OMB statement is Bush’s second veto threat of the day. The administration said he would veto legislation expected to pass the House that would ease restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.

Bush has only vetoed one bill in his six years in office, another stem cell measure.

The White House said the medicare drug bill is unnecessary because it would have little or no effect on government spending and provide no savings to the government or Medicare beneficiaries.

In opposing the House legislation, the White House argued that Part D, which offers prescription drug coverage under Medicare, “has been a strong success” and now serves 90% of Medicare beneficiaries at a lower cost than originally expected. As a result, the administration says the government doesn’t need to get involved in price negotiation.

“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,” OMB said. “Furthermore, competition is reducing prices to seniors, providing a wide range of choices, and leading to a more productive environment for the development of new drugs.”

By Henry J. Pulizzi, Dow Jones Newswires


1. Aaron Hase - January 11, 2007

“The bottom line from the news today is that beneficiaries are paying less in premiums and taxpayers are seeing billions of dollars in lower costs, without the need for government to interfere and reduce access or convenience for beneficiaries.” Acting Administrator Leslie V. Norwalk. Esq.

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