REP. DAVIS ATTENDS TOWN HALL MEETING ON MEDICARE-Andrew Stelzer

04/05/04

Congressman Jim Davis attended a town hall meeting on the new Medicare law in Tampa today. Organized by the Florida Consumer action network, the goal of the meeting was to educate seniors and others citizens about the new prescription drug plan, which will end up costing most seniors more money than they pay now, despite the claims of the Bush administration. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer was there and filed this report.

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About 30 people attended the meeting to ask Congressman Davis about the plan, and what he’s doing to change it before it goes into effect in 2006. Several people complained about the political power of pharmaceutical companies and HMO’s, who make large campaign contributions. Davis, who voted against the Medicare law, said that pharmaceutical companies had too much influence over members of congress who wrote and voted for the law.

ACT “Its clear…we should have been having the is conversation before now.�

Davis is pushing legislation that would repeal a part of the Medicare law that prevents the federal government from negotiating with drug companies for cheaper prices. There are also movements in congress to stop other parts of the law, or repeal it all together before it takes effect in 2006. JW Strickland, a retiree coordinator for west central Florida; he said that change needs to happen now, because Americans are suffering.

ACT

A video about the Medicare law, narrated by Walter Cronkite was shown to open the meeting, it details some of the confusing aspects of the Medicare law, which a USA today poll last week found that 55 percent of seniors do not support. The video explained the so called ‘donut hole� of coverage, which will make senior pay about half of their first 5000 dollars worth of drug costs each year, and the discount card, which lets seniors choose their specific program once a year, but allows drug companies to switch which drugs are on each card, and how much of a discount is offered—the companies can make these changes every 7 days, thereby changing the plan while a Medicare recipient can not adjust to the changes. Ed Dees is with Ironworkers local 397, they hosted the meeting at their union hall.

ACT

As the discussion progressed, some people got more upset and frustrated with the lack of solutions for the problems with the Medicare bill. Mike Cowlins, engineers local was one of those who has had enough.

ACT “This is simple, you cant have a for profit system for healthcare…�

One woman who has cancer, asked if there were any republicans in the room. When no one raised their hands, she said that the meeting was pointless because they were preaching to the choir. She recommended that the community needs to hold public debates between candidates, and do the same on issues, so that people can hear different perspectives.

After the meeting, Davis said that there still is a chance to change the Medicare law, but he doesn’t think that can happen unless President Bush loses the election.

ACT ‘I don’t expect…

There will be another town hall meeting in Sarasota this Thursday at 1:30 p.m., at the Selby Public Library, 1331 First Street. For information about that meeting, or to have the Florida consumer Action network show a video about Medicare to your group, call 941-518-7051, or email becky@fcan.org

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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