It sounded simple enough on the campaign trail: Free the government to negotiate lower drug prices and use the savings to plug a big gap in Medicare's new prescription-drug benefit. But as Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, they are struggling to keep that promise without wrecking a program that has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined.
House Democrats have vowed to act quickly after taking power in January to lift a ban on Medicare negotiations with drugmakers, which they hope will save as much as $190 billion over a decade. But House leaders have yet to settle on a strategy and acknowledge that negotiation is, in any case, unlikely to generate sufficient savings to fill the "doughnut hole," the much-criticized gap in coverage that forces millions of seniors to pay 100 percent of drug costs for a few weeks or months each year.
If Medicare Part D is so wildly popular, why did the Democrats campaign against it and why didn't the Republicans mention it when they ran? And just because lifting the ban on Medicare negotiations may not, by itself, close the donut hole, does that mean lifting the ban is still a bad and politically unpopular idea? I was surprised to read this B.S. in the Post, but I notice they are pushing it on Faux News as well.