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White House raises prescription drug cost estimate--again.

On February 9, the Bush administration released estimates that a new federal program to provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare recipients would cost $724 billion over the next 10 years.

The administration had lobbied hard for the prescription drug program, winning congressional approval in November 2003. At the time, the administration had estimated that the program would cost $400 billion over 10 years, and many Republicans voted for it, fearing that the alternative would be a far more expensive version of the legislation backed by liberal Democrats. The following January, the administration revised its estimate upward to $534 billion over l0 years and upward again recently to $724 billion. However, because the prescription drug benefit does not kick in until January 2006, the administration argues that the $724 billion cost estimate for 2006-2015 should not be compared to the $534 billion cost estimate for 2004-2013.

Two days after the administration released the $724 billion estimate, President Bush threatened to veto any bill that would scale back the prescription drug program. "I signed Medicare reform proudly, and any attempt to limit the choices of our seniors and to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare will meet my veto," he said on February 11. That's quite a statement, coming as it does from a reputed fiscal conservative who, after more than four years in the presidency, has yet to veto a spending bill.
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 7, 2005
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