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Finding Consensus on a Prescription Drug Plan for Seniors

The prognosis is getting brighter for seniors hoping for prescription drug benefits, as CBS News Correspondent Bob Schieffer reports.


Key Republicans have decided that President Bush's plan for providing prescription drugs to seniors will be allowed to die a quiet death


Instead, they will push a bipartisan plan that follows the approach taken during the campaign by Al Gore--a plan that makes prescription drugs available as a benefit of the Medicare entitlement program.


The approach is part of a broad overhaul of Medicare sponsored by Democrat John Breaux and Republican Bill Frist, who believe there is growing agreement that prescription drugs should be part of Medicare.


"Prescription drugs should be part of Medicare. I don't think . . . any group or organization . . . feels that it should not," says Breaux.


A cornerstone of Al Gore's campaign was making prescription drug coverage a part of Medicare, but Bush opposed it as too expensive. Instead, he proposed giving states 12 billion dollars a year, which they could distribute to seniors who needed help buying drugs.


But now, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who will play the key role in shaping Medicare reform, says he favors the Breaux-Frist approach to make drugs a part of Medicare, a view other key Republicans are coming to share.


That makes the chances better than ever that such legislation will be passed this year. So in a presidential campaign that had many ironies, add one more.

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