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VICE PRESIDENT

Biden sees budget progress

Vice President Joseph R. Biden says there’s “good progress” being made in talks with Congress on a government funding bill to avoid a government shutdown next week.

Mr. Biden said the White House and Republicans controlling the House were working on a plan that would cut $73 billion from President Obama’s budget request for the current budget year.

The vice president said that there’s no reason why the administration and Republicans can’t avoid a government shutdown next Friday at midnight.

Mr. Biden stressed that there’s no official deal yet and that the outcome depends on the makeup of the spending cuts, as well as GOP policy provisions disliked by the administration.

MEDICARE

Prostate cancer drug to be covered

Medicare officials said Wednesday that the program will pay the $93,000 cost of prostate cancer drug Provenge, an innovative therapy that typically gives men suffering from an incurable stage of the disease an extra four months to live.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the biotech drug made by Dendreon Corp. is a “reasonable and necessary” medicine. The decision ensures that millions of men would be able to afford the drug through the government-backed health care coverage. With government reimbursement, analysts estimate Provenge could rack up $1 billion in sales next year. The decision, which will be finalized by June 30, is important for Dendreon because most prostate cancer patients are 65 or older.

The infused drug is a first-of-a-kind treatment in that each dose is customized to work with a patient’s immune system.

GUN CONTROL

Brady still fighting for gun laws

Jim Brady, President Reagan’s smooth-talking press secretary, hasn’t stopped speaking his mind, forcefully and poignantly, and that was clear Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt that paralyzed him.

“I wouldn’t be here in this damn wheelchair if we had common-sense legislation,” he said Wednesday at a Capitol Hill news conference. He was joined by his wife, Sarah, and lawmakers in calling for gun control legislation. The Bradys head the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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