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Senate takes up Medicare drug bill this week

Senate Democrats are looking to change a key provision of the Medicare drug law.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Senate Democrats are looking to change a key provision of the Medicare drug law.

They want to let the government negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries, saying it could lower the cost of prescription drugs for the elderly and the disabled.

The Medicare drug law that Republicans pushed through four years ago prohibits the secretary of Health and Human Services from getting involved in negotiations between drug makers, insurers and pharmacies.

Most Republicans believe there's no need for government involvement, saying the program is costing less than expected and Medicare beneficiaries say they're happy with it.

They also note that Congressional Budget Office says government involvement would have a "negligible impact."

The House passed a similar bill earlier this year, though it requires the government to negotiate. The bill the Senate takes up this week only allows it.