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Medicare for drugs from abroad questioned

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- House and Senate negotiators on Medicare revision reportedly are having second thoughts about allowing Americans to buy cheaper drugs abroad.

The Washington Post, quoting sources, said key House Republicans on the Medicare conference committee have suggested Congress drop the notion for now of allowing the "reimportation" of drugs -- many of them developed and patented in the United States -- from countries where prices are considerably lower. They suggest further study.

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The reimportation matter is a major sticking point as negotiators enter their final days of closed-door bargaining sessions to resolve differences in Medicare legislation. It proved vital when the House passed its Medicare bill in late June by one vote. Some observers say it's doubtful a final Medicare bill can pass the House without it.

John Feehery, a spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, said the speaker has qualms about reimporting drugs on economic and safety grounds but is committed to a compromise.

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