Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

New Report: Most Medicare Beneficiaries Worse Off by 2007 Under House GOP Prescription Drug Plan

June 17, 2003


Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today at a news conference held to announce a new Consumers Union report on Medicare prescription drugs that shows that most seniors will not benefit from the House Republicans' prescription drug plan. The full report can be found here.

“Thank you all for coming. I’m pleased to be here with three great champions of the Medicare program - my colleagues John Dingell, the dean of the House and ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee; Charles Rangel, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee; and Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. We are pleased to be here with Gail Shearer, Director of Health Policy Analysis at Consumers Union.

“Today, House Republicans start action on their Medicare prescription drug plan. Medicare beneficiaries have waited a long time for help, but unfortunately, this legislation falls far short of what seniors and disabled Americans have been waiting for.

“Democrats believe that any Medicare prescription drug benefit must be:

--Affordable - with reasonable premiums and deductibles - designed to significantly reduce the price of prescription drugs;
--Meaningful - with defined, guaranteed benefits - no gaps or gimmicks;
--Within the Medicare program - not a separate privatized plan that lets HMOs make all the decisions about costs and benefits;
--Available to all seniors and disabled Americans on Medicare no matter where they live -- rural or urban -- or what their incomes are.

“Sadly, the House Republican bill does not offer a defined, guaranteed prescription drug benefit, and does not do anything to hold down the price of prescription drugs.

“It contains a ‘coverage gap’ so wide that 50 percent of seniors would fall into it -- paying whatever an HMO saw fit to charge them while receiving no help at all.

“The inevitable conclusion, as the Consumers Union report explains, is that under the House Republican bill, most Medicare beneficiaries will be worse off in 2007 than they are today.

“What does the Republican bill do? It turns Medicare over to HMOs. It disadvantages million of seniors in rural areas. It turns Medicare into a voucher program -- splitting up the traditional Medicare program seniors trust into 10 separate pieces, and telling our most vulnerable Americans that they need to pay more to stay in the Medicare program they trust.

“As we work to provide seniors and the disabled with the real Medicare prescription drug benefit they have been asking for, it is helpful to have experts like Gail Shearer to give us the facts.

“With that I would like to introduce Gail Shearer of Consumers Union.”


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