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Alarmed by rising prescription drug prices, Massachusetts officials are seeking permission from the federal government to limit the number of medicines that would be covered by the state Medicaid program, which is currently required to provide coverage for all treatments.

In making their request, state officials argue they should be able to use some of the same tools that commercial insurers employ to contain costs. And they insist such a move is needed in order to preserve the larger mission of providing adequate health coverage.

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