HOYER, DEMOCRATS ATTACK HOUSE GOP MEDICARE PLAN FOR HURTING RURAL SENIORS

For Immediate Release:

June 24, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), other Democratic House members, and Frank Clemente of Public Citizen today announced the results of a study by Public Citizen which demonstrates how the complicated Republican plan to provide prescription drug coverage through private insurance plans could leave America’s seniors, especially rural seniors, with NO coverage:

“Public Citizen’s report makes it startlingly clear that HMOs often do not serve seniors and the disabled in Medicare well.  But none of the members standing here today really needed this report to tell us that.  We know first hand what has happened to seniors and the disabled who have enrolled in HMOs in the Medicare Plus Choice program.

“In my state of Maryland alone, over 116,000 people have lost their coverage.  In one year, 79% of seniors and the disabled enrolled in Medicare were dropped by their plan.  These are elderly and disabled Americans who can not easily maneuver the bureaucratic challenges of finding a new health care plan and doctor at the drop of a hat – or should I say at the drop of the bottom line. 

“Southern Maryland, which I represent in Congress, is a largely rural area, so I have talked to many senior citizens who could lose out under the Republican plan, as they have in Medicare Plus Choice. I know that there are many Republicans whose constituents have had similar unhappy experiences. 

“The Republicans say they want to modernize Medicare.  But they aren’t taking any lessons from past experiences.  Repeating past mistakes doesn’t seem to be a very modern or good idea to me.  Democrats are going to fight for a prescription drug benefit like Congress promised the American people we would deliver – a guaranteed and defined benefit that is voluntary, affordable and within the Medicare system.  The Republican bill offers none of this to America’s seniors.

“Instead, seniors will find a complex plan that is difficult to navigate and could leave them paying more out of pocket than they do today.  Republicans are simply trying to inoculate themselves on this issue for 2004.  I hope that they will instead work with Democrats to create a comprehensive, affordable and guaranteed drug benefit for all seniors.”

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