WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama strongly praised a decision by the nation's pharmaceutical industry to agree to a deal cutting drug costs for elderly Americans on Monday, calling it an example of the kind of compromise required for successful national health care reform.
The agreement discounts medications for Medicare beneficiaries currently facing high out-of-pocket expenses when their benefits reach a gap in coverage.
"Real health care reform ... will require these kinds of commitments," Obama said during an appearance at the White House.
"Today marks a major step forward, but it will only be meaningful if we complete the journey. ... We are going to get this done."
The nation's top drug manufacturers agreed over the weekend to at least a 50 percent discount for most beneficiaries for brand-name medicines purchased in the so-called "doughnut hole" gap in coverage, Obama noted.
The gap involves medication costs of senior citizens between roughly $2,700 and $6,100 a year that are not covered by the Medicare part D plan.
The deal is expected to amount to an $80 billion reduction in Medicare drug costs for senior citizens over the next 10 years, according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, who helped negotiate the agreement.