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POLICY: A very tentative deal on drug benefits

Yesterday’s reports that a deal has been reached in the Medicare Drug negotiations do not necessarily mean that we’re actually going to get a finished bill.  There are only 2 Democrats on the negotiating team, and several Senators, led by the old liberal war-horse Ted Kennedy, have previously threatened a filibuster if either a) the bill imposes a means-test on recipients or b) Medicare is forced to compete directly for members with private plans. This philosophical opposition to  heading down what Kennedy and others believe is a slippery slope towards Medicare becoming a two-tiered welfare benefit rather than a global entitlement, dovetails nicely with the desire of Democrats to prevent Republicans from being able to campaign as the "party that brought you drug coverage" in 2004.

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