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Conway wants partial repeal of 2003 Medicare drug benefit

by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 11, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is calling for a repeal of a provision in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act which the U.S. Senate Democrat primary candidate says is a "sweetheart" deal for big pharmaceutical companies.   The drug benefit signed by President George W. Bush looms as a budget buster. 

Here's the news release from the Conway campaign:


Conway calls on Washington to repeal special interest "sweetheart" deal
Repeal will save taxpayers $200 billion that can be used to create jobs, cut the deficit

LOUISVILLE - United States Senate candidate Jack Conway is today calling on Washington leaders to repeal a 2003 special interest deal in the Medicare law which will cost taxpayers $200 billion over the next decade.

The deal, a provision inserted into the 2003 prescription drug benefit legislation by big pharmaceutical companies, was signed into law by President George W. Bush, and prevents Medicare from using bulk-buying power to negotiate lower prices on prescription drugs.

"Washington cut a backroom deal with the drug companies that will cost taxpayers $200 billion. I'm calling on Democrats and Republicans in Washington to come together and repeal this giveaway and focus on our working families by creating jobs and cutting the deficit."

Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors is a promise that has been made repeatedly to the American people in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, but leaders in the Senate have not committed to repeal the provision as part of the current health care bill.

Kentucky's seniors face crippling costs on prescription drugs. In fact, about 129,000 seniors in the Commonwealth have prescription drug needs which cost them an average of over $4,000 each year.

A 2009 study by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare found that the Veterans Administration, which is able to use bulk buying power to negotiate lower prices on prescription drugs, pays an average of 48% less for the same drugs as Medicare Part D. Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices could save taxpayers as much as $200 billion over the next 10 years.

"Under my leadership as Attorney General, our Medicaid fraud office has recovered tens of millions of dollars from prescription drug companies that overcharged our state Medicaid program. It's time for Washington to do away with this backroom deal and focus on taking care of our seniors, creating jobs and lowering the deficit," Conway said.