From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: 'For the Sake of Our Seniors, We Must Dismantle This Cruel Hoax of a Medicare Bill'

January, 28 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle spoke with leaders of several seniors groups at a news conference today to repeal the slush fund for HMOs in the Republican Medicare prescription drug bill:

"Today we are here to announce that we are preparing legislation to eliminate the $12 billion Medicare HMO slush fund and millions in HMO payments, provisions that will give insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars -- $500 million this year alone -- while making seniors wait until 2006 for any alleged help with their drug costs.

"Seniors need to know that, although Republicans say the benefit is voluntary, seniors' premiums will increase 12 percent every year if they do not enroll immediately, thus forcing them into HMOs.

"Seniors need to know that there is a huge gap in coverage that eliminates benefits just when their costs go up.

"Seniors need to know that 2.7 million retirees will lose their prescription drug coverage they worked their whole lives to earn; and under this bill they will lose that.

"And every American needs to know that not only did Republicans cook up a bad prescription drug benefit, but they also larded it with special interest handouts.

"When Republicans sat down to write the Medicare prescription drug legislation, excluding Democrats on the House side, they designed a bill to help the special interests, not seniors, and they succeeded.

"Republicans increased profits for HMOs by creating billions of dollars in new subsidies for HMOs that start immediately. But they left many seniors worse off than they are now, with only meager benefits that do not begin until 2006.

"Republicans gave $139 billion in windfall profits to big drug companies. But they left seniors who have annual drug bills between $2,250 and $5,100 to pay $35 a month and a $250 deductible each year to receive absolutely nothing for several months each year.

"With the special interests, not seniors, in mind, Republicans designed a bill that will dismantle Medicare. For the sake of our seniors, we must dismantle this cruel hoax of a bill.

"Democrats will continue to explain to our seniors just how bad this bill is, and what we must do to repeal many of its provisions.

"Senator Daschle and I have already introduced a bill to repeal the prohibition on Medicare negotiating for lower drug prices. We will be working with all the groups here, and hundreds more across the country, to repeal billions of dollars in new subsidies for HMOs."




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