WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) made the following statement tonight on the House Floor regarding the competing Democratic and Republican bills to provide a prescription drug benefit to seniors:
“If truth in advertising rules applied to legislation, we would have a duty to warn America’s seniors: Beware!!! The Republicans’ prescription drug bill could be hazardous to your health. This bill is nothing less than an historic betrayal of America’s seniors.
The GOP pretends that it is merely extending Medicare. But, in fact, this bill is the most dangerous attempt yet to dismantle the most popular health care program in American history.
Republicans fought the creation of Medicare in 1965, and their disdain for it continues today.
Yesterday, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee (Bill Thomas) – the architect of this bill – said on MSNBC, and I quote: ‘To those who say that [the bill] would end Medicare as we know it, our answer is: We certainly hope so.’
This bill would drive seniors out of Medicare and into the arms of private insurers. There is no guaranteed monthly premium. There is no defined benefit for seniors. There is no guaranteed access to the drugs seniors need. The only guarantee in this bill is that it would leave a huge gap in coverage. Seniors would pay a $250 deductible, $420 a year in premiums and all costs between $2,000 and $5,100 in drug expenses. This bill even prohibits the government from negotiating lower drug prices for seniors.
In contrast, the Democratic substitute offered by Mr. Rangel and Mr. Dingell would provide a prescription drug benefit that is guaranteed, affordable, universal and voluntary. There are no gaps in coverage.
Seniors would pay $25 a month, a $100 deductible and then 20 percent co-insurance. Their out-of-pocket expenses would be limited to $2,000 a year. Our plan also gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate fair prices for Medicare’s 40 million beneficiaries.
Let’s be honest: This Republican drug bill is nothing but a candy-coated placebo that fails to cure the problems faced by millions of American seniors every single day.”