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A new direction for health?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 16 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1039
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

Last week's victory for the Democratic party in the US mid-term elections is likely to mean changes in health care for senior citizens and uninsured people and less restriction on abortion, says Janice Hopkins Tanne

Now that the Democratic party controls both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the United States, changes may come affecting many national health issues when the new Congress takes charge in January.

The changes may include prescription drugs for elderly people, coverage for the 47 million US citizens without health insurance, reproductive health and abortion rights, and stem cell research.

Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from liberal San Francisco, will become speaker of the House of Representatives. If the president, George Bush, and the vice president, Dick Cheney, were unable to serve, she would become president. It is the first time a woman has held this position.

Drug plans for elderly people

The Democratic majority wants to change the Medicare drug plan for older people, called Plan D. Medicare is the government's health insurance plan for US citizens aged 65 years or more. Last year elderly people had to enrol in Plan D to get prescription drugs at prices that were sometimes reduced or face penalties if they delayed.

The law that set up the Plan D programme prohibited Medicare from negotiating drug prices with …

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