WASHINGTON (AP) - The congressional budget deal would shift a bigger share of Medicare's medication costs to drug companies, a change that could help limit future increases in beneficiaries' premiums for prescription coverage.
Changes to Medicare's popular "Part D" prescription plan headline a long list of budget-deal tweaks to the government's premier health insurance program, which covers about 60 million seniors and disabled people.
Also, the drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole" would be eliminated one year earlier than currently scheduled, in 2019 instead of 2020.
Another provision would raise premiums paid by the wealthiest retirees for coverage of outpatient services and prescription drugs.
And the deal would permanently repeal current limits on outpatient rehab services, such as physical and occupational therapy. Previously, Congress had routinely waived the therapy caps.
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