WASHINGTON, D.C. –House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in response to President Bush’s speech on Medicare this afternoon in Orlando, Florida:
“While I am pleased that President Bush found the time to squeeze in a speech about Medicare in between two fundraisers in Florida today, I would like to have seen more leadership from the White House in crafting a bipartisan prescription drug bill that provides substantial help to seniors, lowers drug costs and strengthens Medicare. Frankly, the Administration has remained silent on the sidelines in this debate.
“Democrats have fought for over a decade to bring down drug prices and provide guaranteed, defined prescription drug benefits under Medicare. Democrats will support any bill that achieves these goals, and oppose any bill that does not. No one can question our commitment to providing this help to seniors.
“However, news reports indicate that Republican Leaders are poised to ram through a prescription drug bill that doesn’t lower drug costs, increases premiums, leaves gaps in coverage, forces seniors into private insurance plans and disadvantages rural seniors.
“It appears that the Republican plan forces seniors to take a back seat to two other long-term goals of the Republican Party: dismantling Medicare and creating Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs have nothing to do with providing prescription drug coverage to seniors and offer little to middle class American families who Republicans claim they would help. And the idea that Congress is forced to haggle over tax shelters rather than focusing on prescription drugs is unconscionable.
“If Republicans produce a plan that matches press reports, Democrats are confident that the more seniors learn of the GOP’s confusing and ill-conceived plan, the more they’re going to wonder why Congress didn’t just do exactly as the Democrats proposed from the beginning.”