http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tm...e=5&u=/nm/20040312/us_nm/congress_medicare_dc WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top Democrats said on Friday Congress should reconsider its approval of the Medicare prescription drug bill in response to a published report that a federal expert was threatened with dismissal if he had disclosed how much it might really cost. "I think we ought to bring this bill back for another vote," said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota after reading excerpts of the report by Knight Ridder newspapers on the Senate floor. "I think an investigation of some kind is certainly warranted," said Daschle. "If not criminal, it is certainly unethical." The administration had no immediate comment. Knight Ridder reported that the government's top expert on Medicare costs, Richard Foster, was warned he would be fired if he told lawmakers about Bush administration cost estimates that could have doomed the measure as too expensive. In the midst of congressional debate on the measure in November, the administration embraced an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. The legislation squeaked by in the House of Representatives, and had an easier time winning Senate passage. But five months earlier, according to Knight Ridder, Foster had estimated that a similar plan the Senate was considering would cost $551 billion over 10 years. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, joined in Daschle's criticism, saying, "To restore the integrity of the House, I call on (House) Speaker (Dennis) Hastert to immediately bring this bill to the House floor to vote on its repeal." With Republicans controlling Congress, there appeared to be no chance the bill would be repealed. Yet the Knight Ridder report and Democrats' comments about it put a new twist in the already embattled Medicare prescription drug benefit. In January, a month after Bush signed it into law, administration disclosed the prescription drug benefit was expected to actually cost $534 billion, triggering a furor. According to the Knight Ridder report, Foster told colleagues last June he would be fired if he revealed the numbers relating to his higher estimate. "This whole episode which has now gone on for three weeks has been pretty nightmarish," Foster wrote in an e-mail to some of his colleagues on June 26, a copy of which was obtained by Knight Ridder. "I'm perhaps no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policy makers for political reasons." Thomas Scully, who then ran Medicare, was quoted by Knight Ridder as saying he did not threaten to fire Foster but did not want Democrats to try to use him to score political points.