HOUSE DEMOCRATS KICKOFF NATIONAL DAY OF Rx DRUG TOWN HALL MEETINGS

Democrats to Tell Seniors “We are Keeping Our Promise”

For Immediate Release:

July 18, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement at the Kick Off for Democrats’ National Day of Prescription Drug Town Hall Meetings (Saturday, July 19th), on which over 70 members in 27 states will hold town hall meetings with seniors in their districts:

 “Thank you all for joining us here today at this kickoff of the House Democrats’ National Day of Town hall Meetings on Prescription Drugs.

 “Tomorrow, more than one-third of our Democratic Caucus – more than 70 Democrats in this House – will pro-actively take our party’s case on prescription drugs directly to seniors from Maine to Miami, from San Francisco to Seattle, and points in between.

 “In all, more than 100 House Democrats have held town hall meetings on prescription drugs this year, demonstrating our commitment to this issue and America’s promise to our seniors since 1965 – the Medicare program.

 “And we have every reason to believe that, the more seniors examine the House and Senate GOP’s prescription drug bills, the more they’ll be concerned about those bills and the more they’ll be receptive to our message – that our seniors deserve a prescription drug benefit that is guaranteed, affordable and available to all.

 “As some of you may know, AARP – which has more than 35 million members – warned Congress this week that the bills passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate offer inadequate benefits and could do more harm then good.

 “In opposing a ‘premium support’ measure – like the one in the House bill – AARP stated that it could destabilize the Medicare program and require beneficiaries to pay even more out-of-pocket.”

 “On providing a guaranteed benefit, AARP stated: ‘The House bill does not provide a guarantee that a stable drug benefit will be available in all parts of the country.’”

 “On the gap in coverage, AARP stated: ‘The remaining coverage gap is simply bad policy, is unnecessarily confusing, and will prove to be a disincentive to enrollment.’”

 “Not surprisingly, AARP concluded that it ‘will not hesitate to oppose’ a final version unless improvements are made.

 “The members of the Democratic Caucus could not agree more with these grave concerns about the Republican bills.  And that is why we are fighting for a drug benefit that is guaranteed.  We are fighting for a drug benefit that is affordable.

 “And we are fighting for a drug benefit that is available to all.  We will keep our promise to seniors.

 “The bill that we offered in late June provided for a $25 monthly premium, a $100 annual deductible and 20 percent co-insurance.  There are no gaps in coverage in our plan.

 “We also provide additional resources for rural providers and we would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to negotiate fair prices for Medicare’s 40 million beneficiaries.

 “Contrast that with the House GOP bill.  It would turn Medicare into a voucher program and provide absolutely no assistance to seniors for their drug costs between $2,000 and $4,900 – the donut hole.

  “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.  And we are convinced that when they sit down at their kitchen tables and calculate which plan will really benefit them – which plan really fulfills the promise of Medicare – they will conclude that the House Democrats are the ones keeping their promise.”

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