June 26, 2003
Today we have the opportunity to provide our seniors with a real prescription drug benefit, but instead of giving seniors the plan they deserve, we are taking steps to dismantle a program that older Americans have relied on for 38 years.
The Republican plan before us today fails to offer the types of guarantees that our seniors need and deserve. There is no defined benefit and no standard premium. So when seniors ask me how much their premiums will be or how much their drugs will cost, I cannot answer them. This is unacceptable.
This bill allows private insurance companies to decide premiums, prescription drug coverage benefits and even where coverage will be offered. This proposal threatens to dismantle Medicare and replace it with private health insurance coverage for all seniors. This is precisely the problem many seniors face - they cannot afford private insurance, and depend on Medicare.
This bill also provides additional funding for rural hospitals, but not urban teaching hospitals. This is a serious oversight. Urban teaching hospitals are facing incredible budget shortfalls. They play a critical role in training tomorrow's physicians, and their needs must also be addressed. If the federal government is going to offer additional funding to some hospitals, it must also offer additional funding to urban teaching hospitals.
The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that Americans who contribute to the Medicare program during their working years will have access to dependable, equitable, and affordable health coverage. The Democratic substitute does just that - it lowers drug prices, guarantees coverage and enables seniors to get their medicines at the pharmacy of their choice. The Rangell/Dingell substitute addresses my concerns more effectively and I will strongly support it.
Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208