New Legislation Would Limit Federal Spending for Medicare Rx Benefit

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0,0

There may not be enough money tofund the new Medicare prescriptiondrug program scheduled to take effectnext year if Congress approves new legislationintroduced by Sens Lindsey Graham(R, SC) and Jeff Sessions (R, Ala).

Their bill would limit spending onthe Medicare drug benefit to the originalCongressional Budget Office (CBO)estimate of $395 billion over 10 years.Since that estimate was issued, however,CBO has revised its cost estimateupward significantly, and now believesthe program will cost more than doublethat amount—$849 billion between2006 and 2015.

Under the proposed legislation,annual spending caps would be establishedfor the program, and the presidentwould be required to submit legislationto scale back the benefit ifspending goes beyond that amount.

"I was always concerned the projectedcosts of the Medicare prescriptiondrug benefit would turn out to bewrong," Sen Graham said with regardto the escalating cost of the program."Even I was surprised at how quicklyand dramatically the projected costs ofthe program spiked."

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.