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The swift passage by the Democrat-led House of a bill requiring the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices sets the stage for what is certain to be a key issue in the 2008 elections. The bill calls upon the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to negotiate with drug companies on behalf of seniors, while at the same time barring the government from setting up a formulary as a means of negotiating. Those who favor the bill say it will mean lower drug prices, thus keeping beneficiaries from falling into the “doughnut hole” gap in coverage.

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