House Democrats today announced they would hold a "national day of prescription drug town hall meetings" in Democratic districts across the country Saturday to oppose the Republican approach to a Medicare benefit and to promote what they say is a more generous Democratic alternative. "This is old-fashioned political advocacy. We are going to take our case to the people who would be most affected by this legislation -- America's seniors," said House Minority Whip Hoyer, who has organized the effort with Democratic leaders. Hoyer said more than 70 Democratic members in 27 states would hold events in the hope of building public pressure as Medicare prescription drug conferees negotiate a final bill.
Separately, senior citizens, unions and disability rights advocates plan to demonstrate against the House-passed bill Monday outside Speaker Hastert's district office in Batavia, Ill. Calling the bill a "sham" that protects drug companies' high prices and provides "meager benefits," the groups have scheduled demonstrations all next week and across the country throughout August to derail "passage of the legislation unless drastic changes are made" during a House-Senate conference. The Medicare Coalition, which includes the Alliance for Retired Americans, AFL-CIO, USAction and Campaign for American's Future, also plans Wednesday to hold a protest at the Phoenix, Ariz., office of freshman GOP Rep. Rick Renzi. In addition, the groups said today in a statement, 70 members of Congress who have been critical of the Medicare bill plan to hold town meetings in their districts over the August recess to "call for a real comprehensive drug benefit that does not undermine Medicare."