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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Rep. Green Speaks on Bush Signing the Medicare Bill

December 9, 2003
Press Release
Washington, DC - Representative Green today called the Presidents signing of the Medicare bill the possible beginning of the end of Medicare, saying the bill does nothing to hold down drug prices and would make many seniors worse off than they are today.   
This Medicare bill is not a first step, it is a false step.  It does not lower the prices of prescription drugs and even prohibits the government from negotiating lower drug prices while pushing seniors into HMOs, said Rep. Green.  The benefit is inadequate, forcing many seniors to shoulder up to 70 percent of their drug costs.  Even though the bill requires seniors to pay premiums year-round, its $2,850 gap in coverage hurts the middle class and leaves many seniors without coverage for part of the year. 
The bill signed by President Bush today was passed in the House of Representatives on November 22 by a vote of 220-215, after GOP leaders refused to end a 15-minute vote, instead twisting the arms of House Republicans for nearly three hours to win their support for the bill. 
The Medicare bill doesnt take effect in 2006, it blocks re-importation of drugs from other countries at lower prices, and starts Medicare on a road to privatization.  Additionally, 2.7 million seniors will lose their retiree prescription drug coverage; up to 6.4 million of the poorest Medicare beneficiaries will get less drug coverage than they have now; and millions of seniors will see their Medicare premiums rise if they refuse to give up their doctor and join an HMO.
"The Administration should take notice: seniors will not be fooled by this so-called prescription drug bill.  They know that this bill does not offer seniors a real prescription drug benefit under Medicare. I will continue to fight for a defined, affordable prescription drug benefit that is guaranteed under Medicare," said Rep. Green.