Statement in Opposition to the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill

November 21, 2003

I expect that by the end of this weekend, I will have cast a vote on H.R. 1, the Republican Medicare prescription drug bill. I strongly oppose this bill, and intend to vote against it.

While I fully recognize the burden of the high costs of prescription drugs and the need for a real drug benefit for our seniors, I cannot and will not vote for a bill that undermines Medicare and places its future existence in jeopardy.

I am aware that some people may benefit from this bill. For example, it does provide some prescription drug coverage for those with the lowest incomes. I have always supported efforts to provide coverage for the neediest members of society, and I will continue to do so.

I also know that there are important provisions in this bill for the world-class hospitals, dedicated doctors, and other health care professionals who work so hard to provide quality care to people throughout the 8th District. This legislation will provide some of the funding they need to continue providing the best care in the world.

However, the negative far outweighs the positive in this bill. It does nothing to address the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs. In fact, the bill actually prohibits the federal government from negotiating lower prices with the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, as many as 3 million retired Americans who currently have good prescription drug coverage through their former employers may lose it altogether, or see it significantly reduced.

I am most concerned however, that the bill contains a pilot program that is the first step toward the privatization of Medicare. I am not willing to gamble with the health of our nationÍs seniors, placing their well being in the hands of the insurance industry. I do not believe this is a risk worth taking. Medicare has served us well for over 35 years, its demise would mean an America where seniors citizens are left to fend for themselves in the private insurance market without a safety net. While this bill may offer some appealing short-term benefits, the price will be the end of Medicare as we know it.

I cannot stand by while the Republican Congress dismantles the Medicare program. I will vote no on H.R. 1.


Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208