Drug cost bill advances but GOP resistance spells trouble

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prescription drug compromise that would lower costs for Medicare recipients has cleared a key hurdle in the Senate, but Republican resistance signals trouble when the legislation goes to the floor.

The Finance Committee voted 19-9 to advance the bill Thursday, but it passed because of unanimous support from the panel’s Democratic minority, while a majority of Republicans opposed it.

The bill would limit seniors’ out-of-pocket costs, and require drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices faster than inflation. Those inflation rebates are a problem for some Republican senators, who see them as a doorway to government price controls.

The legislation was written by Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and the panel’s senior Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon. The powerful pharmaceutical lobby is opposed.

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