GOP PRESCRIPTION PLAN CALLS FOR DTC AD STUDY

Two-Year Analysis Would Look Into Marketing Impact on Health Costs

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- House Republicans today unveiled their prescription drug proposal for Medicare and, as expected, they asked for two-year study of direct-to-consumer drug advertising's effects but made no plans to curb the advertising.

The bill, which was presented by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., calls on the U.S. comptroller general to determine "to what extent" drug use rates have increased as a result of the advertising, and whether the increases have resulted in raising the cost of health care.

Consumer satisfaction
The study is also

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expected to look into consumer satisfaction with the drug ads, whether doctors feel the ads help or interfere with their judgements, whether the ads effectively educate consumers, and whether any initial higher costs on prescriptions result in lower costs in other health-care expenses.

The study would be due back within two years.

The GOP legislation will be discussed in two House committees this week and is expected to be passed by the House before July 4, but chances for action in the Senate appear slim.

Democrats
Senate Democrats want a far bigger plan. The GOP prescription plan, which would cost $35 a month, calls for the government to pay 80% of the first $1,000 of drug costs and 50% of the next $1,000, with seniors paying the rest until reaching bills totaling $4,500. There would be a $250 deductible.

A Senate Democratic plan drops the deductible and would charge seniors $25 a month, but would require consumers pay $10 for a generic drug and $40 for brand name drugs.

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