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The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, And Modernization Act Of 2003

1701 words - 7 pages

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003

On December 8, 2003, President Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (Pub. L. 108-173).  This landmark legislation provides seniors and individuals with disabilities with a prescription drug benefit, more choices, and better benefits under Medicare. It produced the largest overhaul of Medicare in the public health program's 38-year history. The MMA was signed by President George W. Bush on December 8, 2003, after passing in Congress by a close margin. One month later, the ten-year cost estimate was boosted to $534 billion, up more than $100 billion over the ...view middle of the document...

W. bill Young, who was absent due to a death in the family, would have voted yes if he had been present. Then, Republicans Butch Otter and Jo Ann Emerson switched their vote to yes under pressure from the party leadership. The bill passed by one vote, 216-215.
On June 26, the Senate passed its version of the bill, 76-21. The bills were unified in conference, and on November 21, the bill came back to the House for approval. The bill came to a vote on November 22. After a short period, the bill was losing, 219-215, with David Wu not voting. Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay tried to convince some of dissenting Republicans to switch their votes, as they had in June. Istook, who had always been a wavering vote, consented quickly, making a 218-216 tally. In a highly unusual move, the House leadership held the vote open for hours as they tried to get two more votes. Then Representative Nick Smith claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from a no to a yes. After all this Smith clarified no campaign funds was made, but was offered campaign support. Then they convinced Otter and Trent Franks to switch their votes. With all the voting changes, Wu voted yea as well, and Democrats Calvin M. Dooley, Jim Marshall and David Scott changed their votes to the affirmative. But Brad Miller , and then, Republican John Culberson, reversed their votes from "yea" to "nay". The bill passed 220-215. The Democrats were not to pleased, and Bill Thomas, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means committee, challenged the result in a gesture to satisfy the concerns of the minority. After following what just happened he voted to table his own challenge, the tally to table was 210 ayes, 193 noes.
The Senate's consideration of the conference report was somewhat less heated, as the debate was coming to an end it was invoked by a vote of 70-29. However, a budget point of order raised by Tom Daschle and voted on. As 60 votes were necessary to override it, the challenge was actually considered to have a credible chance of passing For a little while the vote total was stuck at 58-39, until Senators Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott, and Ron Wyden voted in quick succession in favor to pass the vote 61-39. The bill itself was finally passed 54-44 on November 25, 2003, and was signed into law by the President on December 8.
In July 2004, it was revealed that Thomas A.Scully, Medicare Administrator, had ordered Richard Foster, a Medicare professional, to withhold information from Congress reminding him that he could loose his job. Foster had projected that the bill would cost at least 139 billion dollars more than the White House was claiming.
If you have ever thought to yourself why the cost of prescription drugs in the United States are the highest in the world or why it's illegal to import cheaper drugs from Canada or Mexico, look no further than the pharmaceutical lobby and its...

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