FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN CALLS INCUMBENT PAWN IN MEDICARE CARD BAIT AND SWITCH-Andrew Stelzer

06/17/04

Florida Democratic congressional candidate Jim Stork is making Medicare a major issue in his campaign, and he is accusing incumbent Clay Show of being in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. Stork is particularly upset about the new Medicare drug card, which he calls a “bait and switch� technique. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer has more.

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ACT-frank “This is confusing as heck, no one can make a decision on what is best to take. They can move the table on us, how can you make a good decision.

Frank Fransetta is with the Florida Alliance for retired Americans.

ACT-stork ‘Its so confusing, you go into the store and one person in line pays a different price that another person in line.

Fransetta is one of over 100 seniors in Florida’s’ 22nd house district, which includes Broward and Palm Beach counties. He’s not happy with the new Medicare drug card, which since its introduction a few weeks ago has been met with skepticism, and led to massive confusion among seniors who don’t understand how to choose the right card to get the lowest price on their prescription drugs. Jim Stork, who is running for the house in that district, say his campaign recently did a study on the prices of Celebrex and Lipitor within a 6 mile radius of the current representative Clay Shaw. They found that prices with the new cards will actually go up several hundred dollars a year.

ACT-stork We are only tracking one drug, Celebrex; some seniors are on 5 different drugs, theres no guarantee that they won’t change prices,

Stork agrees with many critics of the plan that one of the biggest problems with the plan is the federal government cannot negotiate with drug companies for lower prices.

ACT-stork “You must allow the government to negotiate for lower prices, plan is confusing. We need to try something else that gives a consistent benefit. Gov need to use their clout.

Congress in fact may be making a change to address the rising prices of prescription drugs. A report released this week by the General Accounting Office as part of a congressional investigation found that in some instances, Canadian pharmacies had stricter standards than those in the United States, thus safety of the drugs is not an issue; this had been a major criticism which has kept a law in place preventing US citizens and local governments from legally buying cheaper drugs from Canada. But according to Stork, congressmen like Clay Shaw are unlikely to do anything that would go against the wishes of their campaign contributors.

ACT-stork “We also looked at who wrote the bill and the drug card plan. Obviously it’s the pharmaceutical industry that did it. 20 percent of Clay Shaw's contributions came from the pharmaceutical industry, there’s a connection, it doesn’t make sense

Frank Fransetta with the Florida alliance for retired Americans says the bill was a co-creation of the drug industry, their favored republicans, and that the AARP was brought in through closed meetings and financial incentives.

ACT-frank “When we had the bill passed, AARP was allowed to meet with republican leadership, and democrats were excluded,. None of this was not passed in the light of day. This goes back to Newt Gingrich and Bill Noveli, as the CEO of AARP. Noveli bought into the bill and had a 20 million dollar grant gave to them. Prior the didn’t support the bill

Only 5900 AARP members have signed up for the new Medicare card thus far, and AARP has reversed their earlier stance, and is now speaking out against the cards. To try and determine which card may be best for you, go to www.medicare.gov.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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