As lawmakers continue negotiations on a federal spending reduction plan that will accompany a vote to raise the debt ceiling this summer, Democrats last week introduced legislation to rein in costs in the Medicare prescription drug program (Medicare Part D).
Identical measures were introduced in both the House and Senate. Specifically, they would require drug companies to provide rebates to those beneficiaries who are dually-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (“dual-eligibles”) and those are enrolled in Medicare Part D’s low-income subsidy program.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the legislation will reduce the deficit by $112 billion over 10 years. As the larger deficit reduction debate moves forward and Republicans and Democrats seek common ground, the introduction of such legislation is indicative of the types of small-scale Medicare and Medicaid reforms that Democrats are willing to accept in a final deficit reduction package.
Conversely, Republican negotiators have pushed for a more significant overhaul of the two entitlement programs in order to reduce deficit spending. The two parties hope to reach a tentative agreement by July 1, in advance of the vote to increase debt ceiling that must occur before August 2.