Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: 'Democrats Stand Ready to Deliver a Meaningful Prescription Drug Benefit'

June 11, 2003


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at press conference on Medicare, joined by, from left: former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly and Reps. John Dingell and Charles Rangel."

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke at a press conference this morning with Congressmen John Dingell and Charles Rangel, held to receive nearly 500,000 petitions signed by seniors from across the country opposing any and all proposals that would undermine Medicare. Barbara Kennelly, President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, presented the petitions. Below are Leader Pelosi's remarks:

"Thank you all for coming today. We are here to discuss a very important issue facing seniors and the disabled -- the fight to add a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program they know and trust.

"And I’m pleased to be here with three champions of the Medicare program -- my colleagues John Dingell, the dean of the House and ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Charlie Rangel, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and our former colleague, Barbara Kennelly.

"Barbara was a great member of Congress when she served here, a significant leader then on issues pertaining to seniors, and now the leader of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Barbara, seniors across the country are grateful to have you as their voice in Washington, D.C.

"Here we are at a time when we know the miracle of science -- that prescription drugs can be miraculous in their power to cure and to improve the quality of life for our seniors.

"With a prescription drug benefit, seniors will have an improved quality of life and with it reduced cost to the taxpayer. And it is much less expensive to have a self-administered drug rather than having to have physician care or hospitalization in order to receive treatment.

"And so it is with some disappointment that I look to the Republican proposals. Their proposals do not meet a standard that we have set:

"So, it is in that spirit of bringing a great prescription drug benefit, one that is not only with seniors staying in Medicare to receive it -- and let me make that distinction. Because when the President said, ‘O.K. I give up. Seniors can stay in Medicare to get the benefit,' it did not mean that the drug benefit would be administered under Medicare.

"The House Republican bill is not only is not administered under Medicare, it puts the seniors at the mercy of drug HMOs and with huge out-of-pocket costs.

"With that in mind, I want to call on former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly. We are pleased to hear the voices of nearly 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries who are demanding what we are demanding: an affordable, meaningful Medicare benefit available to everyone in the program.

"And as we debate how to design a meaningful prescription drug benefit, Democrats stand ready to deliver."


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