Congressional Bribery, Administration Lies Highlight Medicare Vote

The vote on the Republican prescription drug bill in the House of Representatives was held open for nearly three hours; Republicans attempted to bribe one of their own Members on the House floor; and the Administration lied to Members of Congress about the bill's true cost. Borne out of the culture of corruption, the prescription drug plan is jam-packed full of giveaways to big business pharmaceutical companies and managed care firms, but does not have fundamental provisions that would protect Americans. When seniors telephoned the call centers run by the Bush Administration to ask which Medicare prescription drug plan would save them the most money, they were given the wrong answer 60% of the time. American families deserve a benefit that doesn't complicate their lives, but does more to lower costs and confusion.

This is about more than prescription drugs - it is about the challenge of families stretched thin, caring for both their children and their parents. Less than half of those eligible for the plan and without drug coverage have signed up. And for these Americans, the clock is ticking. On Monday, seniors and Medicare beneficiaries will be hit with the Bush prescription drug tax. Democrats stand united to extend the deadline, and end the tax. We also stand for lower drug prices. As handmaidens of the pharmaceutical industry, Republicans explicitly forbid the government from negotiating lower drug prices. This is what we do for our veterans at the VA, and it works.

Right now the Republican prescription drug benefit works for the few, but not the many. To make it work for all Americans, it needs clarity, and it needs common sense. Democrats are ready to provide both.

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