Udall speaks out against bill
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., released the following statement on HR 1, Medicare Prescription Drug And Modernization Act:
“I want to support a Medicare drug bill, but I can’t support the House bill. It is inadequate, unreliable, will force seniors into HMOs, and will threaten drug benefits that many seniors get through their retirement plans. Instead of crafting a drug bill, the Republicans have used the opportunity to try to end Medicare as we know it.
“I have long believed that Congress should act to help seniors with their prescription drug expenses. Congress should give seniors greater choice in coverage; however, it should provide an equal drug benefit to all beneficiaries, regardless of whether they enroll in a private health plan or traditional Medicare. S
“The House bill does not include an important “fallback’ provision that requires traditional Medicare to step in as a backup if private insurers show no interest in selling drug plans in a particular area. Currently, private plans don’t exist in many parts of the country, including many smaller cities, rural and mountain areas in Colorado. So, without this “fallback’ safety net provision, seniors would have no coverage in regions where insurers say it’s unprofitable to provide it, especially rural areas.
“Taken together, I think these provisions undermine the traditional Medicare program. I fear that our country will revert to the time before Medicare was established in 1965, when private insurers wouldn’t provide affordable coverage to seniors. That’s a step backward, not a step forward, in fixing Medicare.
“It is misguided at best that Medicare will pay for a seniors’ care following a stroke but will not pay for the anti-hypertension drugs that prevent them. The time is ripe to pass a Medicare prescription drug benefit, but not this one. I had hoped that we would vote on a bill similar to the one in the Senate because I think it’s a good start toward building a workable, financially sound prescription drug benefit. But the House bill is not the same as the Senate bill, and I can’t support it. I hope that a bill can be worked out in conference that I can support.”
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