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  • NIGHTLINE: That's How a Bill Becomes a Law: 3/25/04
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NIGHTLINE: That's How a Bill Becomes a Law: 3/25/04


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It was meant to be a victory that could be savored all the way through the election. When the President signed the Medicare bill into law last December it was a landmark event. The bill had managed to achieve what senior citizens had been clamoring for for years - prescription drug coverage.

However, there were accusations of bribery, lying, intimidation and political shenanigans on the way to the bill becoming law. Richard Foster, the chief actuary of the Medicare program, testified his boss, a political appointee, threatened to fire him if he publicized his estimates of how much the Medicare bill would actually cost.

The bill that passed had a cost estimate of around $400 billion. Foster's estimate - $534 billion - became public a month after signing of the bill. Needless to say, people were furious, including Republicans who said they would not have voted for the bill if they had known the actual cost.

Airdate: 3/25/04

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