Bill Aids Low-Income Seniors Pay Medicare Premiums

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill (S 3560) that would authorize an additional $45 million to assist low-income seniors with Medicare premiums and increase incentives for certain drug manufactures to produce antibiotics, CQ Today reports. The bill, sponsored by Max Baucus (D-Mont.), would expand a program for "qualifying individuals" -- Medicare beneficiaries whose incomes are between 120% and 135% of the federal poverty level -- that recently was extended through 2009 under the Medicare law that was passed this summer. The Medicare law authorized $400 million for the program in 2008. Thursday's bill would increase funding to $445 million.

The bill also includes a provision that would allow certain antibiotic manufacturers to receive more intellectual property protections if their products receive FDA approval. According to CQ Today, some lawmakers have expressed concern that the U.S. has too few defenses against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The provision would grant the new drugs up to five years of exclusivity upon agency approval (Wayne [1], CQ Today, 9/25). Antibiotics previously were denied an exclusivity phase, according to CongressDaily (CongressDaily, 9/26).

Additional Health-Related Legislation

Summaries of additional health bills passed this week appear below:


* The House passed legislation (HR 1014) on Thursday that would require drug companies to file new applications with FDA that break down the results of clinical studies by race, gender and age (Wayne [2], CQ Today, 9/25).

* The Senate cleared a House-passed bill (HR 2851) on Thursday that would require health insurers to cover college students who are forced to leave school because of serious illness (Wayne [3], CQ Today, 9/25).

* The House approved a bill (HR 2583) on Tuesday that would create a loan program for hospitals to launch residency training programs for physicians, with the goal of increasing the number of physicians.

* The House passed a second bill (HR 6908) on Tuesday that would require that coverage limitations for health plans be "explicit and clear." The bill is intended to compel insurers to disclose restrictions regarding "risky recreational behavior" by beneficiaries.

* The House also approved a final bill (HR 6353) on Tuesday barring online pharmacies from supplying prescriptions in most cases to people who have not been seen by the prescribing physician in person (Wayne/Armstrong, CQ Today, 9/24).

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