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Obama's final push to overhaul healthcare

Barack Obama has unveiled his most detailed plan yet to revive the US healthcare system

President Barack Obama has unveiled his most detailed plan yet to revive the US healthcare system, a year after he first called for an overhaul. The proposed legislation includes provisions designed to improve access to prescription drugs and increase generic drug availability.

The 10-year plan is expected to cost $950bn and provide coverage to more than 31 million uninsured Americans as well as making "coverage more affordable for many more" through federal subsidies. It seeks to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to people with existing problems or charging them a premium.

Fees paid by the pharmaceutical industry will increase by $10bn over 10 years, over and above the $23bn proposed by the Senate. The implementation of these fees will be delayed by one year to 2011. It is thought that this increase will be balanced by new revenue generated from expanded health insurance coverage.

The plan also includes provisions designed to increase access to generic drugs by giving the Federal Trade Commission the authority to address the practice of 'pay for delay' agreements between brand name and generic drug manufacturers. It seeks to prohibit generic drug manufacturers from accepting handouts from brand-name manufacturers in return for stalling the research, development, marketing, manufacturing or sales of the generic drug.

Obama's proposal rejects repeated calls from Republicans to scrap Democratic efforts from 2009 and to start over. The plan will be debated at a bipartisan summit at the White House on Thursday where Obama is said to be willing to incorporate Republican ideas.

Obama said: The plan would put "our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100bn (£64.5bn) over the next 10 years by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse."

 

23rd February 2010

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