Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: Rural Americans Deserve Medicare Guarantee

June 24, 2003


Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this morning at a press conference held to discuss the harmful impact of the House Republican Medicare prescription drug bill on seniors and disabled Americans in rural areas. A fact sheet on the bill's impact is attached.

Pelosi was joined by other Democratic Members, by representatives of several organizations who oppose the House Republican plan, and by Public Citizen, which released a new report documenting the failure of private plans to provide reliable coverage to Medicare beneficiaries.

"Good morning. Thank you all for coming. I would like to acknowledge the many organizations represented here, united in their opposition to the House Republican bill on Medicare, which unravels Medicare as we know it.

"With us today are representatives of:

"I am very pleased to be joined by my colleagues, our distinguished Whip, Steny Hoyer; Congressman Marion Berry of Arkansas; Congressman Max Sandlin of Texas; Congressman Bennie Thompson, the co-chair of our rural caucus, of Mississippi; Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas; and Congressman Thomas Allen of Maine.

"Today, we are focusing on the impact of the House Republican plan on Medicare beneficiaries living in rural areas, and I am pleased to be joined by the most knowledgeable Members of Congress on these issues, whom I just introduced.

"Over the past few weeks, you have heard us describe the serious shortcomings of the House Republicans’ Medicare prescription drug bill.

"Instead of providing a benefit through the Medicare program that seniors and the disabled community know and trust, the House Republican bill ends Medicare as we know it and turns it into a voucher program.

"Instead of being designed to help seniors and the disabled, the House Republican bill is designed to help HMOs and insurance companies.

"A provision of the bill prohibits the Secretary of HHS from negotiating the best price for prescription drugs. Democratic proposals would all include negotiating power for the Secretary that would considerably bring down the cost of prescription drugs. But the Republican Bill prohibits that negotiation.

"All of these problems are magnified in rural areas, as my colleagues here know all too well.

"As this new report shows, HMOs have been unreliable in the past, particularly in rural areas, and under the Republican legislation will be just as unreliable in the future.

"Rural Americans deserve the same guarantee of a Medicare prescription drug benefit as people in urban areas. Democrats are working to make sure all seniors and disabled people get it.

"With that, I’m pleased to introduce Frank Clemente, the Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, who provided the valuable report that is going to be presented to us today."

Click here for Public Citizen's Report >>>

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